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MOSCOW, January 3. /TASS/. One year has passed since the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), an international organization for regional economic integration was formed. Currently, the member-states of the union are the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic, with total population standing at around 182 mln people.
The Eurasian Economic Union was created on the base of the Customs Union and the Common Free Market Zone of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan /operated within EurAsEC till 2015/. The creation of the EAEU was launched by the Declaration on Eurasian economic integration, signed by the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev at a meeting in Moscow on 18 November 2011. On 29 May 2014 in Astana, Presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan Vladimir Putin, Alexander Lukashenko and Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union /ratified on October 3 by Russia and on October 9, 2014 by Kazakhstan and Belarus/.
Kyrgyzstan announced intention to join the Eurasian Economic Union in 2011, Armenia - in 2013. The road map for joining those states to the union was approved in 2013 for Armenia and in 2014 for Kyrgyzstan.
During the first year of the union’s work its member-states faced economic turbulence due to both external factors and global challenges, such as oil price plunge. According to Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission /EEC/ Collegium Viktor Khristenko, trade turnover of the Eurasian Economic Union with third countries dropped by 34% in 2015 while volume of bilateral trade inside the union went down by 25%.
Moscow’s decision to suspend the Agreement on free trade zone with Ukraine starting from January 1, 2016 did not rupture the union as its member-states turned out understanding of Russia’s position. In December 2015, the EAEU countries made a decision to work out counter measures regarding the EU-Ukraine association agreement within 6 months. The measures will be based on online customs filing system. Besides, the plan is to monitor the consequences of creation of a free trade zone between Ukraine and the European Union for the EAEU member-states within 6 months.
In May 2015, at the meeting of the Eurasian intergovernmental council Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev put forth an initiative to create a currency union within the Eurasian Economic Union. Currently, the union’s member-states are actively working at creating a common financial market. According to Medvedev, an understanding was reached within the EAEU on the need to avoid competitive devaluation of national currencies. However, some partners within the union, for example, Kazakhstan, are not ready to discuss the idea of a common currency within the EAEU.
On May 29, 2015 in Kazakhstan after a meeting of the Eurasian intergovernmental economic council an agreement was signed on a free trade zone between the EAEU and Vietnam, which became the first ever international document on a free trade zone between the union and a third party. The agreement particularly stipulates the conditions for tariff liberalization of trade between the EAEU member-states and Vietnam by reducing or slashing to zero import customs duties’ rates for a major part of commodities.
Besides, the EAEU made a decision to launch negotiations on creation of a free trade zone with Israel while potential free trade zone agreements are being negotiated at the level of working groups with Iran, India and Egypt. According to Russia’s First Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexey Likhachev, a free trade zone with India may appear in 2020.
In 2016, the countries of the union plan to agree and sign a road map of intersection of the EAEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt projects with China. Russia has also proposed launch of consultations between the Eurasian Economic Union and SCO and ASEAN on formation of economic partnerships.