The three presidents discussed key areas in integration cooperation, the functioning of the Customs Union and Common Economic Space functioning, progress on the drafting of the agreement to establish the Eurasian Economic Union as from January 1, 2015, and the possibility of drafting an agreement on Armenia’s accession to the future union.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are making steady progress towards integration, and today at this summit meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council we will discuss the latest developments in this area, where we are heading and at what pace. We will look at whether we have carried out all of the earlier steps and measures we planned.
Our common goal is to reach a new, higher level of cooperation and, as we agreed, have the Eurasian Economic Union in place by the start of 2015. To achieve this, we need to keep to our scheduled deadlines and have the draft agreement ready by May.
In accordance with the instruction we gave at the last meeting in Moscow in December last year, our three countries’ governments and the Eurasian Economic Commission speeded up work on the draft text. It was discussed in detail yesterday too at a meeting of our deputy prime ministers in Astana. Igor Shuvalov, Russia’s first deputy prime minister, briefed me on the results this morning.
The agreements’ institutional component needs to define the future union’s international legal status and organisational framework and cement the basic principles for its functioning. The functional, sector-based component will regulate the mechanisms for economic cooperation.
In all of this work it is important to guarantee the ‘four freedoms’ of unobstructed flow of goods, services, capital, and labour. We also need to set out concrete obligations for removing exceptions and restrictions that still remain in place in the Customs Union and Common Economic Space.
The future union should have broad powers in economic regulation. This would make it possible to carry out a common, coordinated policy in key sectors, increase our national economies’ stability and development potential, and ensure a large, common market and flow of new investment.
The Eurasian integration efforts are already bringing concrete results. Despite a slowdown in global growth and the global economy, trade between our three countries not only did not fall in 2013, but even increased slightly and came to $64.1 billion.
At the same time, our mutual trade structure is improving and the share of raw materials in our export-import operations is falling. Instead, we are seeing an increase in technological goods, goods with high added value, and this increase is substantial. The share of high-tech products in the overall trade structure increased from 28.9 percent to 40 percent.
Integration creates the prerequisites for equal competition in the Customs Union nations’ market. Consumer demand is expanding. This stimulates innovative activity among our companies, and manufacturers are using the resources at their disposal more effectively.
Taking into account the interests of the business community has become a priority direction for integration cooperation. The Eurasian Economic Commission has established close cooperation with our nations’ business associations and is consulting with entrepreneurs on improving the regulatory framework of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. I will say even more: they are doing more than consulting; in essence, business representatives are involved in this process and are the co-authors of all these documents.
The Eurasian integration project is appealing to our partners in the CIS. We are at a very advanced stage of negotiations concerning Armenia and Kyrgyzstan’s joining the union.
An action plan has been adopted and is being successfully implemented on the Armenian side to adapt to the norms and requirements of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. So we feel it is possible to start working on a draft agreement on Armenia’s accession to the future Eurasian Economic Union.
Naturally, we need to weigh all the pros and cons for all participants in this process. It is important to continue supporting Kyrgyzstan in the process of accession as well. It is imperative to work with our partners to approve the road map for further action.
Ukraine is the key economic partner for the Customs Union. We are united by close industrial and trade ties. Ukraine belongs to the CIS free trade zone.
We are very concerned by the extreme situation unfolding in Ukraine. The Ukrainian economy is going through an extremely difficult crisis. There may be negative consequences for the Customs Union market as well.
Thus, we need to think together about measures to take in order to prepare our manufacturers and exporters, and develop the framework for further cooperation with Ukraine. We certainly need to do everything to help our partners out of the difficult situation in which they find themselves today.
Naturally, today, we will also discuss other aspects of the situation around Ukraine.
The Eurasian integration association is open to cooperating with all states and has already begun working on a package of free trade agreements with a number of nations.
We have received about 40 proposals on closing such agreements, including from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which includes Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, as well as Vietnam, Israel, India, Chile and Peru.
And in conclusion, I want to stress that Russia values the constructive, equitable and open relations that have been built economically between our nations, and greatly appreciates the joint results that have been reached.
I am confident that Eurasian economic integration will open new, unique opportunities to the participants in this project, which can and should be used for the good of our nations’ citizens.