22:35 GMT +327 May 2017
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    EURASEC INVITES BUSINESS AMERICA AND EUROPE TO CO-OPERATION

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    Grigory Rapota, Secretary-General of the Eurasian Economic Community

    On December 9, 2003, the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), which comprises Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, was granted the status of an observer at the UN General Assembly. It was a big event for us, recognition of the EurAsEC's important role in developing and strengthening efficient economic processes in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

    For several months, we have been in contact with the UN Development Programme concerning the problems of the EurAsEC energy programme, the development of transport and agriculture, as well as the simplification of customs procedures and migration issues. The new status gives us an opportunity to co-operate more closely both with the United Nations and other international communities, working towards developing and strengthening integration processes, such as the OSCE, the International Consumers' Union, and others. We are actively developing interaction with the World Customs Organisation, which is mainly due to the efforts of the Russian State Customs Committee. The Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) is very young. It appeared on the political map of the world in October 2000 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Then five CIS member states (later they were joined by Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine as observers) decided to set up an international economic organisation, a legal successor to the Customs Union, that would have a clear and tough mechanism for taking and implementing joint decisions. It was also designed to unite national markets, accelerate the formation of a single economic space, produce financial and economic benefits for all the participants and ensure protection from any possible economic damage inflicted by third countries due to escalating international competition caused by advancing globalisation. In short, the five states tried to create a community, which in the long run would see its members reach the level of success demonstrated by the European Union today.

    What has been achieved? It should be said at once that in comparison with the EU it is not much, but it is already something. We are confronted with the task of creating a single energy space and a single transport space, while we are looking for fields of interaction in agriculture and are solving migration problems. Some of these tasks have already been resolved or their solutions are being implemented. We have created mechanisms or them and legal bases to achieve them. For example, we are actively working on a single fuel and energy balance, projects for a gas alliance and a single hydropower system. Here are some specific examples. We are focusing our attention on four unfinished hydropower plants in Central Asia: Rogunskaya, Sangtudinskaya (in Tajikistan), Kambaratinskaya-1 and Kambaratinskaya-2 (Kyrgyzstan). Significant investment is required to complete them and we are now trying to decide where to get the money from and who specifically will pay. By this spring we shall have a feasibility study from RAO UES Rossii on its investment in the Sangtudinskaya power plant. It is already clear that about $220 million will be needed to complete it. There are even other investors ready to allocate this sum for the project in order to get dividends later.

    The single hydropower system in prospect will give us all lower energy tariffs, including in Russia. Over the last four months alone, Russia has received over 1 billion kWh of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We hope that even Uzbekistan, which is not a EurAsEC member, will join the system, because it is also extremely interested in stable supplies of cheap electricity.

    EurAsEC's strategic goals, besides energy and transport, include the formation of a single legal space to simplify the movement of goods, services and manpower across the borders, to ensure effective interaction and coordinated efforts of EurAsEC member states in their negotiations to join the WTO, to establish a single customs tariff and unify national customs codes, and to prevent unsanctioned re-export to third countries. We are doing everything to gradually implement an agreement on co-operation in the protection of common borders and to conduct a coordinated economic policy, especially in the real sector of the economy. Work has been started to form a common market of services and a common financial market, which in the future could mean the introduction of a single currency. Apart from this, our goals include close co-operation in the social and humanitarian spheres and in migration policy. We are trying to render every possible form of assistance to the business structures of the Community's members in establishing and strengthening production relations, developing production and technical co-operation and interregional specialisation. We believe that the establishment of joint enterprises and financial and industrial groups, as well as the involvement of private business in economic co-operation, is the most progressive way of achieving inter-state integration.

    The Eurasian Economic Community is by no means a closed club. We advocate the development of active co-operation with other states. We would like to attract investors from Europe, Asia, South Africa, North and South America to the EurAsEC economies. The Community's member states are a rich, huge and promising market of fairly cheap manpower and well-educated and hard-working people, who can work diligently and conscientiously. The Eurasian Community is open to enterprising business people from all over the world. Co-operation with them, with countries that are interested in ensuring order and stability on Earth, and economic prosperity for their nations is the goal and objective of our Community.

    In spring 2004, EurAsEC together with the Russian business community intends to hold a congress called "EurAsEC - Business America" in St Petersburg. Our plans also include the congresses "EurAsEC - Business Europe" and "EurAsEC - Business Asia." We hope that these forums will attract financial and economic elites of the civilised world and that we shall be able to speak about our own plans, achievements and problems, to propose joint projects that can admit everyone interested in developing business, entering new markets and receiving additional dividends.

    Of course, we still have many problems: sometimes there are contradictions and misunderstandings between the EurAsEC member states, and on other occasions there are differences between tariffs. However, even the European Union did not reach its present achievements at once. It took it more than four decades to strengthen trust, mutual understanding and progress towards common goals. As a result, people's prosperity has increased. First of all, this was due to the creation of a single economic space within Europe.

    We hope to cover this way as well. Maybe, we shall even make it a little faster that the united Europe. After all, we have its experience, as well as the authority of the United Nations. The majority of the CIS member states understand that it will be easier for us together to achieve the level of prosperity that has been reached by many European and North American countries. There is no other way. This is why we are holding out the hand of co-operation and partnership to everyone who is willing to work towards these high and noble goals together.

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