Eurasian integration: step by step
A new economic association has appeared on the world map. On December 19, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a package of documents pertaining to the regulation of the Single Economic Space on the territories of their countries. The three leaders also okayed the formation of a special Economic Commission, tasked with managing a new amalgamation which experts say indicates the three countries’ push for closer integration.
In July 2011, the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan started operating on the territories of these three countries which scrapped customs hurdles in order to create a single market. As a result, trilateral trade turnover has already increased by one third. Due to come into force on January 1, 2012, the Common Economic Space will help pave the way for free circulation of goods, services, capitals and manpower on the territories of the three countries.
The Eurasian Economic Commission’s goal is to regulate these countries’ domestic economic policy and address external challenges. Russian Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko has been appointed chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission. The new structure brings together representatives of all three states, President Dmitry Medvedev said.
"This is the first supranational body in the history of our nations – a body to which our states have essentially given a part of their sovereignty," Medvedev says. "Its scope of authority will gradually broaden. A key element here is that the decision-making mechanism within the framework of our Eurasian Economic Community and the corresponding economic committee does not allow for the dominance of any one state. I feel that this is a turning point in our movement toward one another. It reflects our common desire to build our relations based on the best international practice, and not just the best but the negative experience as well, because we must always take into account everything that is happening, everything that happened during our integration process, everything that happened and is happening, for example, in the European Economic Union."
Any amalgamation implies a number of opportunities and risks. At the end of the day, those countries which are taking part in integration process will benefit from this, Medvedev said.
"As for benefits from the creation of the Common Economic Space, they are related to people living in the three countries," Medvedev says. "This is simple enough. A common market creates new economic opportunities and new economic projects which in turn contribute to more jobs and further economic development. A common market also helps create growth points and islets of stability in the face of the ongoing global economic turmoil. Right now, the world economy is going through what experts have already described as the return of the Great Depression of the 1930s. I’m sure that we will only be able to weather this very complicated period by actively dealing with integration. Those countries which create integration unions eventually benefit from them because of an increase in economic volume. As a result, we will have more opportunities to grapple with a spate of socio-economic issues," Medvedev concludes.
He stressed that the Eurasian Economic Union is open to accession by new members, first and foremost by those from the CIS and the EurAsEC . As for the EurAsEC, it groups Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine having observer status. We are ready to discuss the accession procedure with each of these states, and we are poised to create a corresponding road map for each of them, Medvedev said, adding that the topic will be on the agenda of a EurAsEC summit in Moscow in March.
On Tuesday, leaders of ex-Soviet republics will meet in Moscow within the framework of a summit of the seven-member Collective Security Treaty Organization. Also on Tuesday, Moscow will host a CIS summit dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.