Taking part in the meeting devoted to increasing integration in Eurasia were President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission’s Board Viktor Khristenko.
Later on the meeting continued with President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, and First Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Djoomart Otorbaev all taking part.
The presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed a package of agreements at the meeting.
The documents signed include decisions on the main integration development areas and work on the draft Eurasian Economic Union treaty and the Model Law On Competition. Other documents signed concern Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, and procedures for the movement of narcotic and psychotropic substances and their precursors in the Customs Union’s customs territory.
Mr Putin, Mr Lukashenko, and Mr Nazarbayev held a joint news conference following the meeting.
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Speech at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,
I consider that we have made progress since our last meeting in Astana and moved forward on a number of key issues on the integration agenda. We’ve also been able to identify further steps to realise the potential of both the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space (CES).
”I consider it important that the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union includes long-term cooperation goals. It should reflect the EEU’s new quality of integration. The Treaty must clearly state that we shall conduct coordinated policies in key areas of economic regulation.“
What is being done? We are in the process of codifying the legal base of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. Let me point out that the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will be built on this foundation. In principle we agree on developing the CES in any direction; the important thing here is not to lose anything. We all know this and Mr Nazarbayev talked about it: to a significant extent the CES functions as the Customs Union’s legal base, and we cannot simply eliminate it without replacing it with something else.
I think that much has been done in terms of codification and strengthening the legal and regulatory framework, and all this should be used as the foundation of the Eurasian Economic Union. As for the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), I think that in principle we can and should agree with Mr Nazarbayev; we cannot dispense with the legal foundation on which the Customs Union rests, without losing its legal base. It is possible to do as Mr Nazarbayev suggests, namely to take part of this regulatory framework or to sign new documents – we have to consult with lawyers on this point – and to include in the legal framework of the Customs Union itself. We cannot simply remove something without undermining the Customs Union’s legal framework. But something must be done about this, and here I cannot but agree with Mr Nazarbayev. We need to think and find a solution that will not burden us unduly with unnecessary structures.
Naturally, we cannot forget our partners. Here too we have to proceed in the same way: invite them as observers so that they are always with us, able to understand what is happening, and partly use the instruments elaborated in the CES. We need to think about this further.
I consider it important that the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, which we have gathered to discuss today, includes long-term cooperation goals. It should reflect the EEU’s new quality of integration compared with current structures, namely the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. The Treaty must clearly state that we shall conduct coordinated policies in key areas of economic regulation.
The Eurasian Economic Union is designed to ensure maximum freedom for the movement of goods, services, capital and labour. Of course it is unfortunate that we have not yet achieved results on some of the points we previously agreed. Here too I agree with my colleagues: we need to move in this direction and achieve the goals we set for ourselves. That is the first thing.
The second. As we agreed at our meeting in Astana, we must work to eliminate all kinds of exceptions and various reciprocal preferences. We need to create a level playing field. We understand that this is hard work, but it also needs to be a two-way street. We must find a compromise that suits everyone.
”We should talk about creating Eurasian energy, transport and telecommunications networks. This convergence will create the most favourable conditions for our economies’ development potential. Regional integration is the most effective way to maximise the use of internal growth resources and increase competitiveness in global markets.“
We should talk about creating Eurasian energy, transport and telecommunications networks. This convergence will create the most favourable conditions for our economies’ development potential. Hardly anyone doubts that regional integration (and this is a global trend) is the most effective way to maximise the use of internal growth resources and increase competitiveness in global markets. There is also an aspect we have talked about many times now: together we are stronger and better able to respond to global challenges.
In the three years of its existence our Customs Union has proven its effectiveness. Our countries have shaped the market for 170 million people in the CIS. Cooperation ties, especially in industry and mechanical engineering, are growing stronger.
Our exports are steadily climbing, and their composition is increasingly diverse. Trade between the Customs Union and foreign markets is constantly growing. In the first eight months of this year it amounted to $604 billion.
We heard just now that we should approach the expansion of our union very carefully; I fully agree with this: conditions must be the same for all. We talked about this, the three of us, in a very restricted format, and agreed with this principle. Mr Nazarbayev mentioned third countries’ interest in this union, the Customs Union, including that of Turkey. Colleagues, I would like to inform you that another major economy, one of the largest in the world, is demonstrating a similar interest: India.
Our great friend the Prime Minister of India visited Russia just a few days ago. He asked me to raise the issue at our meeting today of India being interested in the possibility of signing a free trade agreement with the Customs Union. I think that in the light of the Indian market’s scale and the development prospects for Asia as a whole, we should take this offer very seriously indeed.
With the general slowdown in global growth, the macroeconomic indicators of the so-called troika – Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan – look wholly acceptable and satisfactory. In the first six months of 2013 our gross domestic product grew by 1.7 percent. Mutual trade within the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, excluding fuel and energy products, increased by 2 percent between January and August.
Needless to say, our union was not entirely spared from the global economic crisis. But to overcome these negative effects we must continue deepening integration, improving our common market of goods and services, and enhancing the business environment. This is the logic behind Russia’s actions, and we are ready for the very closest cooperation.
Thank you very much for your attention.