Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko took part in the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Yerevan on 1 October.
During the talks with restricted attendance and in an expanded format, the EAEU leaders discussed matters of economic interaction, financial policy, energy, the main directions of international activities, and the advancement of cooperation with third countries.
The summit was also attended by Moldova President Igor Dodon as the head of an observer state, and guests of honor Iran President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong.
Speech at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting in expanded format
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko: Dear friends,
On behalf of the Belarusian delegation I would like to thank Nikol Pashinyan and the Armenian side for the organization of the summit and a warm welcome.
I am also grateful to Armenia for the efforts to strengthen our integration association in the period of its presidency in the Eurasian Economic Union.
In the address on the priorities of work in 2019, the Prime Minister of Armenia mentioned the development of trade relations with third countries as one of the objectives. In this context, it is essential to mention the development of a temporary agreement on creating a free trade zone with Iran which will come into force in October. A package of agreements with Singapore is also important for us.
It is a pleasure to welcome guests of honor Iran President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong in Yerevan. Your countries are very important partners for us, and the potential for bolstering economic ties is huge. After securing the regime of preferences it is important to encourage the private sector and the governments to establish interaction in a more measured fashion.
I am pleased to mention the readiness to sign a free trade agreement with Serbia. An agreement on trade and economic cooperation with the People’s Republic of China will come into force in October. In June the Eurasian Economic Union and the People’s Republic of China agreed to share information about goods and vehicles in advance in order to expedite freight traffic across the border. The Eurasian Economic Commission should work out a similar agreement with the European Union in order to make transportation by land from China to Europe via our countries the most attractive route.
The Eurasian Economic Union seriously stepped up interaction with the CIS, the SCO, and ASEAN. We are pleased to welcome Moldova President Igor Dodon at the summit. We expect concrete proposals from the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission and the CIS Executive Committee as the integration associations share interests in the spheres of transport, manufacturing cooperation, and digital transformation.
A lot is done for the popularization of the EAEU. Bishkek hosted the Eurasian Week Forum; Minsk hosted the Forum of Young Leaders of Eurasia and the international conference Five Years of the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty: The Role of the Court.
For the sake of expanding the international agenda of the Eurasian Economic Union it is necessary to pay close attention to far-arc countries where our products and services are poorly recognized for now. We suggest the Eurasian Development Bank should get actively involved in this work. We would be pleased if the EDB chairman of the board could consider the opportunity.
Our national development banks and other financial institutions should also look for ways to establish tighter interaction both inside the union and outside it.
Today we have passed the concept of the formation of the EAEU common financial market thus paving the way for free movement of capital and services. The formation of such a market should go hand in hand with digital transformation. This will allow promoting top-notch financial technology and improving access to the entire range of financial services. Naturally we will benefit from the exchange of best practices in this field.
The EAEU has done a lot for digital transformation of economy, formation of eco-systems for such sectors as trade, cooperation in the manufacturing industry and development of transport corridors, employment, for traceability of merchandise. This work is gaining momentum and it is time to streamline it and to add appropriate norms to the treaty on the union.
Simultaneously, we need to pay more attention to information security and to work out uniform standards and formats of cooperation.
As far as the recognition of electronic digital signatures in the union is concerned, this issue should have been settled a long time ago. Otherwise, the digital future will be long in coming.
Today we’ve invested the Eurasian Economic Commission with the authority to track goods and label them. The Eurasian Economic Commission has to guarantee that these forward-looking proposals will not become another trade barrier.
The union has enough barriers as it is. It is particularly alarming when barriers are put in place in such sensitive spheres as, for instance, government procurement. It is time for the heads of state to look into the painful problem and make a political decision. Probably, the authority of the Eurasian Economic Commission and the EAEU Court may be increased.
Belarus will take over presidency in the Eurasian Economic Union in 2020 and the country’s representative will lead the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission. The country is seriously getting ready for this period. The Eurasian Economic Union is a very young institution. It is necessary to invest a lot of effort and assets in its development in order to create a comprehensive and effective economic union in 2025 at the latest, in order to form uniform industry-specific policies, and implement provisions of the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty.
On the sidelines of the EAEU summit Aleksandr Lukashenko talked to mass media representatives. He said that countries of the Eurasian Economic Union should primarily think about happiness inside the union. The development of trade with third countries should come second.
“The President of Kazakhstan says our domestic trade has shrunk, our foreign trade with other countries is declining. I think before talking about the Eurasian Economic Union’s overall trade we should think about ways to find happiness inside the union, about ways to secure the largest profits from domestic trade. And it is necessary to persistently dismantle barriers if we are to achieve that goal,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
The President stated there are problems with that. In his words, there are dozens of barriers in the Eurasian Economic Union and the work to remove them proceeds very slowly.
At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko noted he had a positive attitude towards matters of state during the current summit in Yerevan. “I see strong interest in our union. They [third countries] are important. They encourage us to be more perfect, to be more appealing to the rest of the world,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. He pointed out that the Eurasian Economic Union is located between gigantic organizations and countries: the European Union and the United States of America on one side and China and the Asian-Pacific region on the other side. “It is a very rapidly developing group of countries. We should definitely use this factor,” Aleksandr Lukashenko believes. He added Belarus is ready to cooperate with as many countries as possible, however, one needs to know how to protect one’s own interests and interests of manufacturers.
The next summit of the Eurasian Economic Union will take place in St. Petersburg in December. The decision on the composition of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission is supposed to be made then. The commission will work under Belarus’ presidency as from February 2020. “Naturally, the chairman will be from Belarus. We will make up our minds on the distribution of portfolios between the ministers. We’ve discussed all options,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Russia has taken a small timeout due to Belarus’ proposals. But we still have time. Moreover, we’ve decided to work out some unified procedure and leave the matter up to the prime ministers to decide in order to avoid having to talk about these matters too much.”