On November 8-9, 2016 Ms. Tatyana Valovaya, Member of the Eurasian Economic Commission’s Board – Minister in charge of the Development of Integration and Macroeconomics, visited Montreal and Ottawa.
In Ottawa, Minister Valovaya met with Ms. Alex Bugailiskis, Assistant Deputy Minister, Europe, Middle East and Maghreb, Department of Global Affairs of Canada and discussed the current status and prospects of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) ‒ a regional economic integrational organization that unites Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
The meeting was also attended by H.E. Mr. Konstantin Zhigalov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Canada, given that this year, Kazakhstan is chairing the EAEU.
Minister Valovaya briefed the Assistant Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada with the main principles of creation and development of the Eurasian Economic Union, noting that during the establishment of the EAEU it was taken into account the experience and the “lessons” of the European Union. The Eurasian Economic Commission’s Minister emphasized that the EAEU is based on economic integration only and it has no political inspirations. This principle protects the EAEU from the appearance of the internal problems, which are currently being faced by the European Union (including “Brexit”). Another important factor is the lack of plans to create a single currency within the framework of the EAEU (it’s a non-monetary union), and this is partly justified by the occurrence of the negative experience of the Eurozone’s functioning. At the same time, the EAEU is working on the harmonization of national legislations in the financial sector, in order to establish by 2025 a single market for financial services (with a supranational institution that will be located in Almaty and it will regulate the financial market).
During the meeting, both sides also discussed other issues concerning the EAEU’s functioning, as well as the prospects of possible cooperation between the EAEU and Canada.
While in Ottawa, Minister Valovaya gave a lecture titled “Eurasian Economic Union: Current Developments and Prospects” at Carleton University.
In Montreal, Minister Valovaya as a keynote speaker participated in a seminar titled “Trading with the Eurasian Economic Union”, which was arranged with assistance of the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association (CERBA). She presented to the Canadian business community information about the EAEU and advantages of doing business with the EAEU member countries.
Along with Minister Valovaya, the event was attended by H.E. Mr. Armen Yeganian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to Canada, H.E. Mr. Konstantin Zhigalov, Ambassador of the Republic Kazakhstan to Canada, H.E. Alexander Darchiev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Canada and Mr. Oleg Kravchenko, Director of the Americas Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus.
Ambassador Zhigalov informed the attendees about the priorities of Kazakhstan’s presidency at the EAEU in 2016 that was declared as the “Year of the deepening of the Union’s economic relations with third countries and key integrational associations”. Kazakhstan has proposed to deepen the EAEU contacts with the key blocks, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Free movement of goods and services within the EAEU corresponds to “The Silk Road Economic Belt” initiative suggested by the Chinese leadership.
Kazakhstan also raises the issue of the need to establish cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and European Union. We have proposed an initiative to arrange a joint conference between the EAEU and EU, where both trading blocs could consider the idea of the Great Eurasia that will bring together in a single integration project of the 21st century the Eurasian Economic Union, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the European Union.
Many countries have expressed their interest in creating a free trade zone with the EAEU. In 2015, the EAEU signed the first free trade agreement with Vietnam. More than 30 countries, including China, India, Israel, Egypt, Iran expressed their desire to expand trade and economic cooperation with the EAEU member countries. The intention of these and other countries has been encouraged by their willingness to use the advantages of cooperation with the Eurasian economic alliance and common market of the five states, as well as to elevate the existing partnership to a new level.
The economic potential of the Eurasian integration is very high. The combined amount of the nominal GDPs of the five members of the Eurasian Economic Union is $2.2 trillion and the common market covers more than 182 million people.
In this regard, Ambassador Zhigalov invited the Canadian companies to partner with the Alliance, including with Kazakhstan, through participation in CERBA and the Kazakhstan ‒ Canada Business Council.