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Meeting of Supreme Eurasian Economic Council

May 29, 2019, Nur-Sultan

Vladimir Putin took part in the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. Ahead of the meeting, the President met with President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The meeting is timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Treaty on the  Eurasian Economic Union.

Apart from the heads of the EAEU member states (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia), President of Moldova Igor Dodon was invited to the meeting as the head of an EAEU observer state, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon attended as a guest of honour, and the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev

The Supreme Council members reviewed the EAEU’s performance over the past five years and outlined tasks for expanding interaction in various areas, including trade, the economy, manufacturing, finance and social policy.

A number of joint documents have been signed, among them the Resolution On the Honorary Chairman of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council; a Joint Statement of the Heads of State of the Eurasian Economic Union on the Occasion of the 5th Anniversary of the Signing of the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty of May 29, 2014; and the Resolution On Guidelines for the Macroeconomic Policies of the Eurasian Economic Union member states for 2019–2020.

Other documents signed concern the exchange of information on goods and vehicles involved in international transportation across the customs border of the EAEU with the People’s Republic of China; a free trade zone between the EAEU and its member states with the Republic of Serbia; the formation of a common EAEU electricity market; and the distribution of import duties between the budgets of the EAEU Member States.

* * *

Speech at the expanded meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, colleagues,

I certainly agree with the assessments of the Eurasian Economic Union five-year work the speakers gave here.

Indeed, we still have a lot to do, and we are working on it, but, of course, today the EAEU is an effective integration association, whose activities are based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and respect for each other’s interests.

A common EAEU market has been formed, as has already been said, embracing more than 180 million consumers, and the freedom of movement of goods, services, capital, and workforce has been established.

The integration processes have stimulated the sustainable development of our countries’ economies and contributed to improving the quality of life and the well-being of our citizens.

I would like to note that according to the figures already cited here, last year the cumulative GDP of the EAEU states increased by 2.5 percent to $2.2 trillion. The aggregate increase in industrial production was 3.1 percent.

Trade with third countries gained 18.8 percent. It actually grew even slightly faster than trade between the association participants: up 9.2 percent to $60 billion.

Frankly speaking, I also see this as a positive effect of the association as such. Because, firstly, it means that unification does not prevent the sovereign development of the participating economies or contacts with third countries. The integration proceeds in a routine manner and, moreover, creates more favourable conditions for working with third countries, because it creates common, understandable, transparent rules of interaction actually based on the WTO principles.

All the figures just presented clearly indicate that Eurasian integration works and brings real results.

As it has already been mentioned here, we came forward with an initiative to award the title of Honorary Chairman of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council to Nursultan Nazarbayev, and I am very happy that all our colleagues supported this proposal.

This actually makes a lot of sense, and not only because Mr Nazarbayev is the one who came up with this whole idea and made a significant contribution to carrying out this plan, but also because he remains committed to this project and continues his work. He can still help us in meaningful ways in developing and consolidating our union.

Thank you, Mr Nazarbayev, for agreeing with this proposal.

Let me emphasise that the EAEU is facing a formidable challenge of promoting deeper cooperation among our countries in various sectors, including trade, finance and social policy.

More coordination is required when it comes to the efforts made to harmonise the legal framework regulating the economy. We believe that we need to keep up our efforts to harmonise administrative rules and procedures and remove the remaining non-tariff barriers, while also scaling down the administrative burden on businesses.

We also need to streamline efforts to coordinate national and multilateral policies in key sectors of the economy. Decisions introducing supra-national regulations in the banking and financial sectors, medicine and pharmaceuticals, transport, and the oil and gas industry need to be fully implemented.

In this regard, we still have matters to discuss and issues to resolve, but overall the decisions have been made, and they need to be carried out. This relates to the energy sector in general as well.

Against this backdrop, the agreement on the establishment of a common energy market within the union is critical. We will approve it today.

The same applies to the decision to establish the Eurasian Industrial Council that will focus on devising proposals on setting up joint ventures taking into consideration the profile of EAEU countries and the division of labour among them.

Here, we need to strive to achieve what Mr Nazarbayev has spoken of, and we can do this. We need to set up major corporations at the Union level and to work on entire manufacturing sectors in order to make better use of our competences and develop them.

The EAEU countries have good prospects for building up cooperation in the field of digital economy. In the near future, they plan to launch pilot projects in labeling and traceability of goods and the organisation of digital transport corridors, which will significantly increase the transit of goods across the EAEU customs territory.

I can understand the occasional criticism of our activities concerning offering preferential conditions to countries that are not members of our Union. However, as our plans for digital support of trade flows develop, all these problems will be addressed properly.

On the whole, digital technologies are to ensure closer interaction with small and medium-sized businesses and building new production chains. Effective technology transfer, the development of an open and supportive business environment – all this will be more effectively addressed with digital solutions. For this purpose, a unified information database on manufacturers and their products is being developed as part of our association.

We support the gradual extension of Eurasian integration to more and more new areas, including the social and labour policy. And here I fully agree with the President of Kyrgyzstan – this is a very important field of activity.

I would like to note that the Eurasian Commission has drafted an agreement that will make it possible, when calculating the size of social pensions, to take into account the retiree’s entire service record in any of the Union states. I believe this is very important for our people, for someone who has worked all their life.

Therefore, it will no longer matter to the person or the authorities where exactly one worked; the main thing is that there are relevant documents confirming past employment. Once the agreement comes into force, the rights and interests of citizens of our states will be more fully ensured.

We need to especially focus on issues related to strengthening the system of joint financial institutions in the EAEU that support the sustainability of the participating economies, including during periods of instability and on the global markets.

The Eurasian Development Bank now finances over 80 projects, mostly in the field of energy, transport, and infrastructure, making investments in vital sectors for the Union states. The banks’ total investment has reached $7.7 billion.

The priority of the EAEU is to expand ties with other states, primarily our next-door neighbours. Taking advantage of the fact that atending this session are the head of state and EAEU observer, President of Moldova Igor Dodon and our guest of honour, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, I would like to once again emphasise how interested we are in deepening the EAEU’s cooperation with the countries they represent.

We favour the development of cooperation between the union and the dynamic economies of the Asia-Pacific Region. The President of Armenia said that quite recently he worked with our Chinese colleagues in Beijing and is confident that such work, as well as the work with the SCO, ASEAN, other countries and integration associations will certainly promote the development as well as the implementation of the idea of greater Eurasian partnership.

China is naturally a strategic partner of our Union. It has a huge economy. The People’s Republic of China has left the US behind when it comes to PPP and become first in the world in the size of its economy. Obviously, we should take this into account. China is our neighbour.

We are taking this into account and continue working, all the more so since our processes in the EAEU align well with the Silk Road Economic Belt idea of President Xi Jinping. The agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the EAEU and the PRC will enter into force in a few months, which will become a solid foundation for mutually beneficial cooperation in a whole range of fields.

The range of the EAEU’s economic partners is continuously expanding. Today, we will adopt a decision to sign a free trade zone agreement with Serbia. The talks on a similar document with Singapore are nearing the final stage. Today, Singapore has been recognised as the most competitive economy in the world. The ratification of a transitional agreement with Iran is close to completion. We hope for equally dynamic work with Israel, Egypt and India.

I believe there are also good prospects for developing mutually advantageous contacts between the EAEU and African countries as well as integration associations.

I would like to take this opportunity to mention that a Russia-Africa summit will be taking place in Sochi on 24 October. We would like to invite the heads of the Eurasian Economic Commission to take part in this event.

The memorandum on the commission’s cooperation with the African Union is currently being drafted. It could be signed on the sidelines of the Sochi meeting if, of course, the commission is ready for this and our colleagues support all this.

Thank you for your atention.

May 29, 2019, Nur-Sultan