Vladimir Putin chaired a narrow format meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in St Petersburg.
The meeting participants reviewed the results of the Eurasian Economic Union’s activity during the year of the Russian presidency, outlined the key areas of further deepening Eurasian integration, including in trade, energy and the digital economy, and discussed the current and organisational issues of the Union’s operation.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues and friends, welcome to St Petersburg.
The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council has met today to consider the results of our joint efforts to promote economic integration this year and our future plans, of course.
I would like to note that our cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has been developing well and very rapidly, also helping us to make better use of our countries’ economic potential.
The combined GDP of the EAEU member states increased by 2 percent in January-June. Industrial production has grown by 3.3 percent and agricultural output by 2.4 percent.
Trade between the member states has increased by 12 percent and reached $44 billion. Trade with our external partners went up 21 percent to $548 billion, mainly due to increased exports.
The EAEU’s positions in international rating have improved, including in Doing Business 2018, where it has moved up to the 31st place. In 2017, we ranked 40th among the world’s 190 economies.
Russia’s EAEU presidency this year continued to work under the integration agenda, including on the operation of the common internal market. We worked together with our EAEU partners to broaden the practice of supranational governance.
During our meeting in Sochi this May, we signed an agreement on a system of labelling goods, which will ensure the transparency of our trade, protect consumer rights and guarantee equal conditions for competition.
Several important decisions have been drafted for our meeting today, in particular, on common markets for oil, petroleum products and gas. Experts believe that the implementation of these plans will increase our combined GDP by some $9 billion.
We continue to improve the technical regulation system and control over product quality. Unified technical standards have been developed for 85 percent of goods that our countries produce.
Production cooperation in metal works, electronics, chemical industry, consumer goods manufacturing and other areas is developing rapidly. At the same time, special attention is paid to export-oriented sectors and innovative products.
A regulatory and institutional framework has been developed for the launch of the EAEU unified digital space. The Union’s 2019 budget, which we will adopt today, includes significant funds for the implementation of large digital projects.
Cooperation between the EAEU member states in space services, including the creation of a common group of orbiters and the promotion of geographic information services on the third party markets seems promising.
The adoption of a joint programme of research and technological development can be considered. It is important for the EAEU members to strengthen coordination in adopting a monetary, financial and loan policy.
In September, representatives of central banks signed an agreement on harmonising legislation related to financial markets. This was a big step towards forming a common financial space.
We suggest discussing the issue of creating a common calculating structure using modern financial technology in the Union. It would allow us to improve the stability of our countries’ national payment systems and make them less dependent on the US dollar and other foreign currencies. It would literally increase our economic sovereignty.
Russia also proposes including the following issues in the integration agenda: simplified travel arrangements, establishing closer cooperation in healthcare, education, tourism, sports and culture. Of course, region-to-region cooperation deserves more attention than it gets now.
The EAEU’s external relations continue to expand. An agreement on international treaties with third countries and international organisations was signed in May.
Russia has completed the necessary internal procedures for it to enter into force. We presume that the other member states will complete this process soon as well.
In November, the Eurasian Economic Commission concluded memorandums on cooperation with the executive committee of the CIS and ASEAN. We see this as a step towards implementing the project of a Greater Eurasian partnership.
Today, we will decide on the entry into force of an agreement on trade and economic cooperation with China and a temporary free trade zone with Iran.
We look forward to the early completion of talks on preferential trade agreements with Singapore, Israel, Serbia and, in the future, India and Egypt.
Notably, a draft declaration on deepening the integration processes has been put together at Russia’s initiative to be reviewed during this meeting. The point is not only to reiterate our commitment to comprehensive development and strengthening of the Eurasian Union, but also to show that we see the integration’s main strategic goal in ensuring sustainable economic growth of the EAEU member states, and improving well-being and the quality of life of our citizens.
Next year, Armenia will take over the EAEU chairmanship. I wish every success to our Armenian friends.