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Partnership for Greater Eurasia: Expanding a Future-Oriented Joint Development Space

September 06, 11:20 UTC+3
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Eurasian partnership is a young and promising concept

“The idea of Eurasian partnership and community emerged only three years ago as an intellectual idea <…> As we have noticed, it has become clear recently that the very Big Eurasia will be a new economic and political center. This is a huge megaregion, that is only beginning to shape,” said Sergey Karaganov, Dean, School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs at the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

 “The SCO comprises 3.12 bln people, which accounts for almost 45% of the global population. This is 25% of GDP. Those are the youngest economically active people around the globe,” said Rashid Alimov, Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

 “Speaking about seven negotiation tracks, what constitutes our absolutely conscious trade policy is that we don’t have a standard free trade agreement <…> We have an absolutely individual format of agreements with each of the seven partners <…> For us the Big Eurasian Partnership is a very diverse, very varied structure of different cooperation options, from preferential agreements to implementation of projects of shared interest,” said Veronika Nikishina, Member of the Board, Minister in Charge of Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission. 

Transport is one of the pivotal dimensions

“We have been developing the transport agreement for eight years, and it came into force this year. The agreement gives a sterling opportunity to operate road transportation services without any delays from Lianyungang in China’s east to St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad (with six more routes in place),” Rashid Alimov said.

“There has been almost no transit operations on the Trans-Siberian Railway for five years <…> Now we say that Russia’s transit amounts to 100 thousand containers <…> Around 1 mln tonnes of cargo that go from China’s northern provinces - this is around 100 mln rubles, maybe slightly more, worth of revenues that we receive as a country. <…> 50 mln tonnes is a potential announced by the governments of China’s northern provinces that are ready to be refocused on Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 corridors,” said Alexandrs Isurins, Chairman of the Executive Board, President, Far Eastern Shipping  Company (FESCO).

Challenges

US claims creating new frame of references and concepts

“The US, through the words of its president, is easily announcing its readiness to impose sanctions against China <…> These are serious trade wars, trade wars of a new level. Obviously, they create a new frame of references, a new system of concepts. In this respect, it seems to me that the Big Eurasian partnership project may have this balancing effect,” said Alexander Shokhin, President, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP).

“Fresh trends are the new priorities of one of the biggest players of the Asian-Pacific Region - the US - which have been very clearly formulated and are already being used. Particularly, new terms, new approaches are being formed, such as ‘fair trade’ <…> The second thing that has also been launched by the US is the fact that they initiated two investigations against aluminum imports and steel imports from all countries, though not based on classic market protection instruments <…> This is absolutely a ‘Pandora’s box’ from the viewpoint of trade rules, which will lead to a very serious discussion on new drafting new rules,” said Veronika Nikishina.

Solutions

Transport preferences should be developed

“Transport is a highly competitive environment and there are several main competitive advantages that we need to implement. First of all, it is speed <…> We are implementing the ‘Shanghai-Moscow in 20 days’ project, which aims at reducing the cargo delivery speed by around 35% <…> Russian Railways is implementing a very interesting project under the name ‘The Transsiberian in 7 days’,” Alexandrs Isurins said.

“The price is an important element <…> What we have is an accelerated adjustment of railway container tariffs, which makes the route less competitive,” Alexandrs Isurins said.

Administrative system and reduction of bureaucracy are crucial

“If we tackle national bureaucracy and work together towards a result, as a matter of fact it will be our big competitive advantage since we can fix the EAEU into the Eurasian partnership in a single stroke, already having aligned the interests of all countries on a mutually beneficial basis,” Veronika Nikishina said.

“Big freedoms for the business is the only reasonable and efficient response to the existing situation <…> We will be cooperating with the government in order to quickly promote the law on supervision and control, which clearly spells out supervising procedures and what is most important, introduces the US-type risk-oriented approach <…> The second law that we would like to pack into the autumn session of the State Duma is the law on permitting activities,” Alexander Shokhin said.

Development Bank should be set up to support cooperation

“After the foreign exchange crisis in Asia, Asian countries established currency swap agreements to promote international infrastructure projects. Korea has long proposed to establish a north-east Asia development bank. Maybe it is not a proper time but at least we can consider setting up a cooperation fund for Korean-Russian partnership project. Such a fund, a regional financial arrangement, should promote cooperation among the regions and help achieve core prosperity of Eurasian countries,” said Hyun Jung Taik, President of Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP). 

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