Logics of construction should be clear
<img class="imgl" alt="" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-441.jpg">[b]The contours of the future Eurasian Economic Union are being discussed, with another round of negotiations held in the Moscow Region’s Novo-Ogarevo, which recently hosted a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. The presidents of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan again confirmed their intention to fully launch this new geopolitical structure, once particular, vital, details have been agreed – as considered to be in the interests of members. A complete portrait of the future union is being drawn up via sincere and open dialogue, confirming the seriousness of the three states’ intentions.[/b]
The Belarusian side brings to the forefront the thesis about unconditional construction of the Eurasian Economic Union on a solid foundation of a large-scale Customs Union, without any exemptions: particularly, without duties, quantitative or some other restrictions. Alexander Lukashenko was openly speaking about this at the session, “We should achieve tangible results in our integration project. One target should be to complete the formation of the Customs Union, without restrictions or exemptions. We’ve made the biggest progress here, with only a few exemptions remaining. However, these apply to very sensitive commodities – such as alcohol, tobacco, medicines, oil and gas. We need to take a principal decision on them.”
However, scrupulous logics of movement is vital here, since during the discussion at the expert level an opinion originated at some moment on the necessity to view the abolition of exemptions (dealing with commodities) in connection with services, movement of capital and labour force. However, such enlargement of the conversation evidently leads to its complication. Therefore, official Minsk believes that ‘the freedom of movement of goods should become an example for realisation of the remaining three freedoms. Without this, the future economic union will lose its solid foundation’.
As far as the draft agreement on the Eurasian Economic Union is concerned, it will consist of two parts: institutional and functional. Belarus has made its position clear regarding separate provisions within the institutional section at the last meeting of ‘troika’ heads of state in Moscow. Experts are still working to harmonise the document. As far as the functional section of the document is concerned, although work has intensified, only 70-80 percent is ready: no more than at the time of the previous meeting. Little headway has been made in reconciling various positions on sensitive goods, believes Mr. Lukashenko, stating, “This pertains to the formation of the common energy market, liberalisation of the automobile transportation market, access to the gas transportation system, and subsidies for agriculture. Our partners keep putting forward new suggestions that affect existing arrangements.”
Meanwhile, there’re no impassable barriers here. The Belarusian side suggests continue improving the legal framework of the Singe Economic Space, provided that all three partners agree to the new suggestions. If any object, existing provisions should be kept without change – just as they are nowadays. So, this will allow to avoid unjustified setback of preparation of the central document of the future union, which may lead to movement backwards.
The principle of consensus was also supported by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. Moreover, Astana also pays attention to the fact that the major task for today is to set up an economic union. “We’ll focus on other aspects later; let’s just concentrate on economic issues and ignore misunderstandings. We can tackle our differences gradually, to remove them,” noted Mr. Nazarbayev.
The words, said by Mr. Putin, testify that there’re no systematic disagreements in assessments, It’s important to guarantee the ‘four freedoms’ – movement of goods, services, capital and workforce – while removing remaining exemptions and restrictions within the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space. The Union should be conferred with a wide range of powers in the sphere of economic regulation, enabling it to pursue a common and agreed policy across key branches. This would aim to enhance the stability and development potential of national economies and ensure a capacious single market and inflow of additional investments.”
The presidents have also tackled some issues of ‘troika’ interaction with other important partners, with good results noted in the work dealing with Armenia’s plan to join the future Eurasian Economic Union, so the elaboration of the corresponding document can be launched in the nearest time. Naturally, the Ukrainian issue attracts the attention, with Mr. Putin stating, “The extraordinary situation in Ukraine is very alarming. The Ukrainian economy is in a difficult state – even in crisis. The Customs Union may be adversely affected so I suggest we work together to plan measures to protect our producers and exporters. We need a strategy for further co-operation with Ukraine. Ukraine is the Customs Union’s key economic partner, being united by close industrial and trade ties and a member of the CIS free trade zone. Undoubtedly, we need to make everything to assist our partners to come out of the complex situation that they’ve faced now.”
Therefore, the movement towards the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union continues and the terms for signing of the agreement remain the same – May 2014.
By Dmitry Kryat