NUR-SULTAN – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev discussed the future of Eurasian integration among other acute issues during his meeting with heads of governments of member states of the Eurasian Economic Union on February 25, reports the Akorda press service.
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov, Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers – Head of the Presidential Administration of Kyrgyzstan Akylbek Japarov, Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail Mishustin gathered in Nur -Sultan for the Eurasian Economic Union Meeting of the Intergovernmental Council. The delegation focused on 15 issues of trade and economic cooperation and the expansion of mutual trade among member states, the removal of barriers within the EAEU market, as well as the further development of integration.
Addressing the heads of government, President Tokayev noted that the meeting was taking place amid “the unprecedented heightening of geopolitical tensions”.
“Our economic union is naturally concerned about the growing political confrontation due to the sanctions dispute and the negative consequences for the economy and financial systems of our countries. In Kazakhstan, we are taking anti-crisis measures, and this is only the beginning; there is very serious and difficult work to be done,” Tokayev said at the meeting, stressing the need to create a working group to assess the risks arising from the current situation.
According to him, despite the complicated external macro-environment, economic indicators of the union show positive dynamics. By the end of 2021, the union’s foreign trade increased by more than 34%, and trade among union members increased by 67%.
“This is a good indicator of the strengthening of trade and economic ties within the Eurasian Economic Union. Overall GDP growth was 4.4%,” Tokayev said, noting that the union is moving in the “right direction.”
During the meeting, the heads of government shared their views on the current status and prospects of Eurasian integration. Tokayev said there is still a lot of work to do, including learning to “find rational approaches to solving very difficult problems.”
Speaking at an expanded meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, Kazakh Prime Minister Smailov also noted that trade within the union exceeds trade with foreign countries. But the share of mutual trade is less than 15% of total merchandise trade.
Smailov stressed the importance of creating an environment without barriers in the internal market, where work has stagnated for years. These include issues of access to government procurement, regional certification, unwarranted application of sanitary, veterinary and other restrictions, and customs control applied uniformly within states.
“If we are interested in creating a transparent market in the EAEU, we must decide on fundamental changes. We suggest that the commission develop a methodology for the economic evaluation of barriers. In addition to confirming the existence of an obstacle, it is necessary to assess the damage caused to businesses and to the integration as a whole,” Smailov said.
He also stated that equal access to transport infrastructure, including seaports, is an effective measure to promote exports from EAEU member states to third countries, but requires better addressing freedom of transit of goods.
“The proposed transit conditions often become an insurmountable obstacle to exports, which has an extremely negative impact on sectors of the economy of states that do not have direct access to the sea,” said the Kazakh Prime Minister .
He spoke to his counterparts about the country’s efforts to tackle phantom imports at its border with China.
“The measures taken in just two months have resulted in an increase in the payment of customs duties and the clearance of goods. At the same time, we started to see a significant increase in imports from China to neighboring countries, which then entered the common market without proper customs clearance or payment of taxes,” Smailov said.
During the January 11 plenary session in the Kazakh parliament, Tokayev called on the government to deal with customs in border trade with China, which he described as a “real mess”, pointing to discrepancies in customs. statistics from Chinese customs authorities that cause losses of billions of dollars.