President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (on the screen) during a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC) in the format of a video conference call

The sanctions of Western countries against the EAEU member states should become an additional incentive to strengthen cooperation through this integration association. Vladimir Putin said this on October 14 at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (VES). At the same time, the president spoke in favor of reducing the use of the dollar and the euro in mutual settlements within the union. The leaders of the five (the structure unites Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation) also discussed the climate agenda, cooperation with third countries and issues related to digitalization and energy.

Rally against sanctions

The coronavirus pandemic again prevented the heads of the EAEU member states from meeting in person. At the last SEEC meeting in May this year, which was also chaired by Kazakhstan, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko complained about constant videoconferences, which did not give leaders the opportunity to discuss issues of international cooperation face to face. However, the difficult epidemiological situation in the world, it seems, will not soon allow politicians to return to the usual way of work.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (on the screen) during a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC) in the format of a video conference call

Photo: RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin

One of the main topics of the meeting was overcoming the negative consequences of the pandemic in the socio-economic sphere.… According to Vladimir Putin, economic growth has now resumed in almost all EAEU states. In particular, in Russia in the first six months of 2021, GDP increased by 4.8%.

Besides, industrial production increased in the EAEU – by 4.4% and the output of agricultural products – by 0.6%, said the Russian leader. Also, in the first six months of this year, trade between the EAEU member states increased by almost a third. Meanwhile, the volume of foreign trade of the association with third countries has grown by a quarter.

Positive results were achieved despite sanctions from Western countries, stated the head of the Russian Federation. The EU, the United States and their allies are actively introducing restrictive measures not only against Russia, but also against Belarus.

It seems to us that such external unfavorable conditions should further stimulate the strengthening of cooperation within our union.– says Vladimir Putin. – The closest interaction is becoming increasingly important in order to switch to national currencies and reduce the use of the dollar and euro in mutual settlements, the organization of import substitution, the development of advanced high-tech industries, the provision of the population with the necessary food.

In the trade turnover between the EAEU members, conditions are already being gradually formed for the transition of settlements to national currencies., said Konstantin Dolgov, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Economic Policy, in an interview with Izvestia.

This is important from the point of view of ensuring the strategic security of Russia and our partners in the EAEU… Calculations mainly in dollars and euros put our countries in a vulnerable position in terms of introducing additional sanctions and taking unfriendly steps on world markets. This does not create the necessary barriers in the way, for example, unfair competition, – said the senator.

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC)

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC)

Photo: RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin

Alexander Lukashenko agrees with this, who also called for intensifying work on import substitution in the EAEU.

It is important not only to promote industrial cooperation, but also to stimulate more advanced forms of cooperation through the creation of supranational Eurasian companies or consortia., – the head of the republic is sure.

In this regard, he called for a change in the format of the Eurasian Development Bank. In his opinion, the main shortcomings in his current model are related to the high threshold for financing projects and the lack of a preferential rate on loans. In general, there is a shortage of large joint projects on the territory of the EAEU, added the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev.

General interest

The meeting also focused on the energy agenda. In particular, an important document was adopted – the decision “On the transition to the second stage of the formation of common markets for oil and oil products of the Eurasian Economic Union”… It involves the preparation by 2023 of draft rules for trading and rules for exchange trading in these products. By 2024, it is planned to develop an international agreement on the formation of common markets for oil and oil products, according to the website of the Belarusian president.

The formation of common sectoral markets in the energy sector is not just a task to fulfill the provisions of the agreement on the creation of the EAEU, but a necessary condition for the full realization of the potential of economic integration, – stated the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, who also stressed the importance of creating common markets for goods and services.

oil pipe

Photo: IZVESTIYA / Konstantin Kokoshkin

The meeting also discussed cooperation in countering coronavirus. In particular, the head of Kazakhstan called for uniting efforts in the fight against COVID-19, developing joint projects in the field of science and pharmaceuticals, as well as coordinating, if necessary, actions to establish sanitary and epidemiological regimes.

Another important topic was the climate agenda. Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia is currently making active efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and develop green energy.

On this background Moscow invites its colleagues in the EAEU to begin unification of standards on carbon reporting issues, to implement mutually beneficial climate projects… In addition, it is worth starting to create our own technologies based on the use of carbon-free energy sources, including nuclear and hydropower, the head of the Russian Federation is sure.

The meeting also discussed food security. According to Alexander Lukashenko, the EAEU countries should be protected from external price shocks caused by the rush demand for agricultural products… He proposed to introduce at the union level a system of medium and long-term planning of the agro-industrial complex, taking into account the development of the world agricultural market.

The issues of digitalization were not left without attention either. Various projects are already being implemented in the Eurasian space in this direction. So, for example, on July 1, a unified search system “Work without Borders” was launched, which provides access to information on vacancies, application forms throughout the EAEU, said Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, the mobile application “Traveling without COVID-19” developed in Russia has become a significant help in restoring the freedom of movement of citizens across the territory of the EAEU member states, he added.

Politicians also agreed on the importance of expanding cooperation with third countries… In July, an agreement on a free trade zone between Serbia and the EAEU came into force. Now negotiations are underway with other countries, including, for example, Egypt and India.

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC)

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC)

Photo: RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin

In addition, in the active phase – the work of research groups to study the feasibility of creating an FTA with Indonesia and Mongolia, said Vladimir Putin. According to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, specialized commissions that study foreign markets could speed up the negotiation processes, as well as prepare proposals for trade cooperation with other states.

Products that are currently produced in the EAEU countries are competitive not only in quality, but also in price– Viktor Vodolatsky, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, told Izvestia.

The MP is confident that the number of states that will directly participate in the work of the organization will also increase in the future. By the way, the last meeting of the SEEC was attended by representatives of the observer countries of the Eurasian Economic Union: President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Cuban leader Miguel Diaz-Canel.

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