Commonwealth of Independent States, Eurasian Economic Union, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the BRICS Discuss An Economic Partnership

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The West was not invited as potential for changes in the world economic system were discussed at length.

An International Forum named “The Dialogue of Integrations” held between the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the BRICS has been held in Moscow under the auspices of the Business Centre for Economic Cooperation of the CIS and the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The forum determined the main areas of cooperation between these associations with the aim of mutual convergence of their economic policies and, accordingly, inter bloc cooperation. With the further development of the indicated areas of partnership, it is possible, as noted at the forum, to prepare a package of documents on a comprehensive economic partnership that would combine the four associations.

Forum participants included the Deputy Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth countries, CIS Secretary General Sergei Lebedev, Head of the EAEU Board Mikhail Myasnikovich and SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming, who all expressed similar assessments of the importance of inter-bloc partnership in modern conditions. The general context of these opinions is that the current geopolitical situation, the new interstate formats, and foreign economic trends caused by this require closer interaction between member countries, and their associations that oppose the sanctions and, in general, the neo-colonial policy of the West.

In turn, the effectiveness of such interaction is determined by the readiness of these countries and their respective blocs to pursue a coordinated financial and economic policy and collectively respond to external challenges. The most effective dialogue of integrations is possible provided that the associations are interested in creating an integration platform that will allow the formation of a fundamentally new world economic system based on the political and economic equality of states and interstate blocs.

For example, CIS Secretary General Lebedev stressed in his speech that the globalisation of the world economy has already been destroyed, and this has been done by Western countries and their blocs, such as the EU.  He stated that globalisation is now being replaced by large trade associations and related blocs in response, such as the EAEU, BRICS, regional and interregional free trade zones including Mercosur and the African Union.

Following the same trend, as noted by Lebedev and other forum participants, is the formation of a more extensive trade and economic association of Greater Eurasia, taking into account China’s Belt & Road initiative. According to Lebedev, the 30-year experience of the CIS is also noteworthy, where the participating countries continue their mutual cooperation while taking into account each other’s positions and make compromises as required, to accommodate rather than impose.

Lebedev especially noted that it was from the CIS that the Union States of Russia and Belarus grew up in the Post-Soviet space, and on this basis the EAEU was subsequently formed. In turn, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan China, initially organised the SCO.

The process of the formation of partner economic blocs has been preceded by political relations between countries or the growing demand for deeper economic ties between them. That has predetermined the subsequent foreign policy interstate partnership.

Head of the EEC (EAEU supervisory) Board Mikhail Myasnikovich focused on integration trends in the EAEU. He stressed that during the current conditions it is required to increase investment cooperation in the EAEU, and to form powerful Eurasian companies along with the creation of Eurasian industrial clusters. According to Myasnikovich, within the framework of these priorities, the fixed capital investment in the bloc is running at about 17-18% of average national GDP and this should be doubled.

Doubling fixed capital investments within the EAEU countries is considered possible within the framework of joint investments (interstate and commercial/intercountry). Their volume, in turn, is predetermined by the scale of bilateral and multilateral integration/cooperation projects. This is currently the model practiced for example, in the Benelux countries, ASEAN, the Economic Community of South and East Africa, and the Caribbean Community.

Myasnikovich also noted the positive growth of trade relations not only within the Eurasian Union, but also the EAEU with other countries, including those not participating in the Union, but participating in the BRICS. In 2015-2022, the volume of mutual trade between the countries of the Union increased by 1.8 times and 1.7 times by the EAEU with third countries.

Adylbek Kasymaliev, the Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, agreed, as did the other forum participants, and singled out the creation of EAEU Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with other countries as the most important stimulus for international integration trends. Since the introduction of sanctions pressures on Russia and Belarus by the West, the EAEU today is of significant interest to many large foreign economies: including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, India, and Indonesia.

Accordingly, the formation of an FTA with these and other countries, and according to Kasymaliev will give a powerful impetus to the large Eurasian space. Thailand, Chile, Nicaragua, Mongolia, Cuba, Algeria, and Ethiopia are also interested in creating FTA with the EAEU.

The Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Petrishenko spoke in favour of working out the mechanisms and directions of precisely the inter-bloc political and economic partnership of the EAEU, the CIS, the SCO and BRICS, stating it was advisable to use the strengths and accumulated experience of each integrated association. The nature of partnership, according to Petrishenko, is also needed to prevent economic discrimination of countries and their blocs by the West.

As a result, by joint efforts, the group would be able to strengthen the ties between each of the associations, which, in turn, will contribute to the formation of a just and multipolar world order based on mutually beneficial and equal cooperation.

The position of SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming was seen as being as close as possible to these assessments. During the negotiations on the margins of the Dialogue of Integrations, Myasnikovich and Zhang identified mutual financial cooperation as one of the main sectors of EAEU and the SCO integration. According to Myasnikovich, “We need to ensure the synchronisation of the payment and settlement infrastructures of the EAEU, and the SCO based on the use of national currencies. We will present our proposals in the near future.” Zhang supported this initiative, meaning that Beijing does.

It is also noteworthy that the Dialogue of Integrations was accompanied by a meeting of the Economic Council of the CIS. The decisions adopted here mirrored the recommendations made during the forum. A draft Action Plan for the further implementation of the Memorandum (2005) on Mutual Understanding between the CIS Executive Committee and the SCO Secretariat will be prepared in time for the next CIS Economic Council meeting in June.

In addition, the draft Protocol on Amendments (Adjustments) to the Commonwealth Agreement on the Rules for Determining the Country of Origin of Goods in the CIS was approved. The status of the head centre for innovative cooperation in the CIS until 2030 was assigned to the JSC Science Foundation of Kazakhstan. The Intergovernmental Council of the CIS on the Agro-Industrial complex was instructed to prepare proposals for the next meeting of the EC on further development of interaction between the CIS countries in strengthening national and collective food security, developing common markets for agricultural products.

This reflects the Dialogue of Integrations is gradually acquiring the contours of an inter-bloc political and economic partnership in its own right – and is very likely the platform upon which Chinese President Xi Jinping stated ‘Great changes are coming’ at the end of his recent meetings with Russian President Putin.

Source: Rhythm of Eurasia

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