The Eurasian Economic Forum Kicks Off In Bishkek

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This Year’s Forum gains significance as Russia’s pivot to Asia and Supply Chain movements place Central Asia in the spotlight.

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

The Eurasian Economic Forum is an annual business event of the Eurasian Economic Union concentrating on economic and commercial issues and is this year being held in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Member states include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.

This year’s theme is “Eurasian Economic Integration in the era of Global Changes: New Opportunities for Investments”, and has taken on far greater significance for China and Europe due to the regional impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Several discussion sessions are being held within the framework: “Strategy – 2025: Forming a Vision of the EAEU Future, New Areas and Directions of Cooperation.” These include:

“Prospects of the EAEU Internal Market and Paths of Development”

This will deal with further liberalisation and commonality of trade, tariffs and customs regulations between each of the member states and countries with which the EAEU has Free Trade Agreements with. The EAEU has suffered in the past from a lack of coordination in trade, quality and standardisation issues.

“Projecting Eurasianism Into the Future”

A more abstract view of what Eurasianism really means. Is it Central Asia? Does it include the entire landmass from China to the European Union?

“Interaction between the EAEU and International Partners”

This will be a key session of interest to proposed Free Trade and related partners. The EAEU has FTA with Serbia and Vietnam, while numerous other countries, including major economies such as Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Turkey are negotiating agreements. China meanwhile has signed an FTA but has yet to agree tariff reductions. Meanwhile, there have been recent calls to expand the BRICS network, an issue that could also involve the EAEU bloc as a component part.

Financial Markets

Other panel sessions include financial markets and development institutions (development banks), where delegates will discuss possibilities for macroeconomic stability and growth points of the EAEU countries’ economies. The following topics are proposed for discussion: “The role of exchange-listed financial instruments denominated in the EAEU States’ national currencies for economic growth fueling”; “Practical aspects of forming an integrated currency market in the EAEU space. Direct exchange rate formation mechanisms of the Union Member States’ national currencies”, “Ways to expand the use of the EAEU Member States’ national currencies in settlements within mutual trade”, and “International experience in implementing targeted economic development programs.

International programs and projects of inclusive development”. Issues such as de-dollarization, the use of alternative financial platforms to SWIFT and increasing trade in each others currencies will be high on the agenda.

Manufacturing & Agriculture

This panel session considers issues of the manufacturing industry and agriculture as drivers of the EAEU’s economic growth and ensuring economic security. The following will be discussed: “Main directions of industrial cooperation: key trends, implementation tools, challenges and risks”, “Digital modernization of the EAEU agricultural sector”, “Technical regulation in the interests of people and the business community”, and “The EAEU Jewelry Agenda: results, possibilities, and opportunities”.

Russia and Kazakhstan are huge exporters of wheat and grain and decisions taken here in light of global shortages will affect the EU, Africa, and Middle East as regards food security as well as regional and global distribution.

Energy & Transport

The fourth panel session focuses on energy and transport infrastructure to promote economic development. It will include a number of sessions: “Transportation industry as a frame of the Eurasian economic integration”, “Council of Heads of Authorized Bodies in the Field of Transport”, “Prospects for creating the EAEU countries’ energy corridors”, and “Council of Heads of Authorized Bodies in the Field of Energy”.

Up for discussion will be important subjects related to Eurasian supply chain developments, and again of great importance to China and the EU. The Tajik President for example has already spoken of the need for his countries development plans to focus on transit, and the knitting together of transport corridors both within and externally from the EAEU will be of interest to regional infrastructure financiers such as Russia and China’s Belt and Road Initiative ambitions. Getting returns on investment from such projects will be a key issue.

Eurasian Digitization

The panel session concerning the Union’s digital agenda 2.0 plans to discuss the following areas: “E-trade: a pillar of the EAEU single market infrastructure”, “EAEU digital development as a key to efficient integration”, “Public Reception of the Competition and Antitrust Regulation Unit”, and “Business Dialogue with the EAEU Customs services”.

Much of Eurasia has, unlike the West, adopted Chinese 5G and digital technologies and issues such as an expansion of a digitized, regional common trade area will again be key to EAEU development. Chinese businesses such as Huawei will be looking on with great interest.

Tourism, Education & Youth Development

Another panel session will consider new areas of interaction in the EAEU, including the following: “Tourism industry – a new round of extending economic cooperation”, “Developing network forms of interaction in implementing higher education programs”, and “Strategy-2025: youth views on the EAEU development”.

There are various issues here as concerns age demographics, with a spread in average age differences between EAEU countries of 16 years. The Central Asian nations are getting younger, while Belarus and Russia are getting older. Vocational training as well as tertiary education will be discussed, while the tourism industry element goes hand in hand with the transportation section. With huge available tourist markets like China just next door, the potential for tourism development is huge.

We will be featuring the outcomes of these discussions on next week’s Russia Briefing updates. To ensure you receive these, please make sure you obtain your complimentary subscription here.

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About Us

Russia Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Eurasia, including China, Russia, India, and the ASEAN nations, assisting foreign investors into the Eurasian region. Please contact Maria Kotova at russia@dezshira.com for Russian investment advisory or assistance with market intelligence, legal, tax and compliance issues throughout Asia.

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