On December 5, the 6th Eurasian Economic Congress was held at the press center of the “Russia Today” news agency. The theme of the plenary session of the Congress was strengthening business dialogue and its role in the development of relations between the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, the European Union and Asia.
The member of the Collegium (Minister) on Trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Veronika Nikishina noted that today it is business that can contribute to overcoming the crisis in relations between the EU and Russia and enhance the dialogue between the EEC and the European Commission. Veronika Nikishina stressed that despite the sanctions regime, the business communities of the EEU member states and the EU remain reliable partners for each other. This is facilitated by a number of factors, including territorial proximity, established and developed transport infrastructure, an understandable market for each other in terms of demand and financial opportunities, as well as the practice of joint work that has been formed over many years.
According to the EEC Minister, the main task is to fill the expert dialogue with issues of trade regulation meeting the practical interests of the business as much as possible. “No one knows their problems and tasks better than the entrepreneurs who are really involved in trade. For example, these are issues of customs administration. So business should be more active, and we, from our side, are ready to be quality facilitators to minimize obstacles in trade,” said Veronika Nikishina.
Veronika Nikishina also touched upon construction of the common economic space “from Lisbon to south-east borders of ASEAN”, noting that all participants will benefit from creation of regional trade rules within such space.
In this context, the EAEU is already implementing important trade and policy projects. For example, a free trade agreement with Vietnam has been in effect since October 2016. In October this year, free trade agreements were signed with Singapore and Serbia. On October 25, an agreement on trade and economic cooperation with China entered into force. It is seen as the basis for simplifying the conditions for doing business and forming a pool of projects of common interest that will make a concrete contribution to shaping Greater Eurasia.
An important vector of this work, as noted the EEC Minister, will negotiate a free trade agreement with India, a country whose role in the formation of the Greater Eurasia can hardly be overestimated.
In turn, the Deputy Head of the Mission of the Republic of India in the Russian Federation, Binaya Srikanta Pradhan added that the EEU countries are good potential partners for India, but the trade turnover is very low now. The deputy head of the Mission noted the need for an effective mechanism to promote investment, trade in goods and services. “If interaction with the EAEU is intensified, the turnover may grow up to $62 billion. The Eurasian region opens up serious trade and economic opportunities for us. Subject to the reduction of tariffs in the EAEU, Indian companies will have access to the Eurasian market, at least in the agricultural sector,” said Mr. Pradhan.
Sergey Cheremin, head of the Department for External Economic and International Relations of the Moscow City Government, is convinced that the Baltic states would benefit from active cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania could become a natural bridge on the way of interaction between the EU and the EAEU, believes Sergey Cheremin. “At one time, the Baltic states were very integrated into the economy of the Soviet Union.
It was probably one of the most developed regions in terms of high-tech production and availability of very professional personnel. All prerequisites for integration of the Baltic states into the Eurasian space are quite logical,” the minister said. He added that the common market of the EAEU could be very attractive for the Baltics.
In turn, Professor Antonio Fallico, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Banca Intesa and President of the Eurasia Association noted that the dialogue between the EAEU and the EU, a common huge market of unions should become an important part of international economic development. According to the professor, European companies are not interested in splits, but in finding common solutions in the space of Greater Eurasia. “This path is in the interest of European economies and societies because it opens up new opportunities to improve the quality of life for billions of people,” Fallico said.
Frank Schauff, director general of the Association of European Businesses, emphasized in his report that the level of cooperation between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission is not sufficient at the moment and should be taken to a higher political level. Frank Schauff outlined at least five areas in which the EU and the Eurasian Economic Commission can cooperate effectively: Arctic exploration, 5G development and protection of personal data, improvement of regional border infrastructure, technical regulation and partnership in the Northern Dimension.
Also at the Congress, the participants discussed the role of fintech innovation in the familiar financial ecosystem. The second section of the Congress was dedicated to #smartcity technologies and urban environment development. The Congress also touched upon the topic of interconnection of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the EAEU. The special session on the prospects of economic cooperation between the EAEU and China, as well as the development of new logistics routes was addressed by Su Fangqiu, Minister Counsellor, Head of the Political Department of the Embassy of China in Russia. He noted that China has already managed to build an intergovernmental mechanism for trade and economic cooperation with each of the EAEU countries on a bilateral basis. “We are constantly expanding the horizons of cooperation. In addition to traditional areas such as energy supplies, China together with the EAEU develops infrastructure projects, as well as IT projects, financial and scientific-technological developments. This certainly contributes to the deepening of multifaceted business cooperation,” Fangqiu said. He added that China is interested in pairing the Silk Road Economic Belt with the EAEU and is ready to work on a free trade zone.
The XI Russian-Indian Business Dialogue, which included two round tables: “EAEU – India: new horizons for strategic cooperation” and “Doing business with India”, was also held on the margins of the Congress. The participants discussed the peculiarities and aspects of the development of Indian business in the territory of the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as the challenges and opportunities to overcome them. Representatives of the Business Council for Cooperation with India, experts in the field of promotion, marketing and international development as well as representatives of constituent entities of the Russian Federation took an active part in the discussion.
In total 68 speakers addressed the plenary session and 8 thematic sections. A total of 50 representatives of international, federal and regional editions attended the event. The total number of participants of the VI Eurasian Economic Congress was more than 700 people.
The event was supported by the Moscow Government and the Business Council for Cooperation with India.