Meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council

Dmitry Medvedev: "In the first nine months of this year, trade within the EAEU grew by approximately 13.5–14 percent. As much as 90 percent of our deliveries were produced in the member states. Overall, the volume of our foreign trade has increased by 22 percent, mostly thanks to our exports, which exceeded the volume of imported goods."

Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks at a meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council

Documents signed following the meeting

A joint news conference by Dmitry Medvedev and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan following a meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council

List of delegation heads attending the meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council:

Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan

Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Sergei Rumas

Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev

Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziyev

Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev

Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan

Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks at a meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council

Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks at a meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council

Colleagues, Mr Rumas,

Speaking on behalf of Russia’s chairmanship in the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, I would like to welcome all of you to this expanded format meeting and to thank our Belarusian partners for organising this meeting.

Russia is chairing the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council this year. Overall, we have a positive view on the pace of our economic integration. We are making progress in all spheres. The common market of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is developing, even if not without difficulties. In the first nine months of this year, trade within the EAEU grew by approximately 13.5–14 percent. As much as 90 percent of our deliveries were produced in the member states. Overall, the volume of our foreign trade has increased by 22 percent, mostly thanks to our exports, which exceeded the volume of imported goods.

All five member states have strengthened their positions in trade, both within the EAEU and in international markets. This does not mean that we can now sit on our hands. We discussed very complicated, delicate and legally complex issues at our restricted format meeting, and I believe that it was a good discussion. But we will continue doing this because a number of issues merit further discussion.

I would like to say a few words about the main areas of our common work.

First, we must strengthen the internal contour of our integration and promote the development of supranational regulatory bodies. I am referring to the roadmap on removing obstacles on the internal EAEU market. We discussed this issue today at a meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and also here, at our  meeting. We must ensure the timely implementation of this roadmap. There are some problems. We are lagging behind on some issues, which is what we must focus on.

This year we have taken a big step towards creating a common financial market. I am referring to the agreement we have signed to streamline our financial legislation. It is important to create common markets for crude oil, petroleum products and gas, as well as competitive conditions for the work of our businesses in this sphere. The implementation of our tax plans and budgets, the protection of consumer rights and fair competition depend on the transparent movement of commodities across the EAEU.

We signed the Agreement on the Marking of Goods with Identification Means in Almaty in February this year. It will help us also apply this mechanism to other groups of commodities, fight grey schemes and improve the market situation.

The ratification process for this agreement is ongoing. All of us hope it will be completed this year and we will have a truly effective document.

Second, we have joined forces in the development of promising integration spheres, primarily the digital economy. We have created the legal and institutional frameworks and selected several projects. Two more are under discussion. All the member states are working seriously in the digital sphere and have submitted their projects. This is a prerequisite for our further development in this field. We will issue instructions to the commission to work jointly with the governments to draft a concept for applying special regimes.

We must also continue developing the import substitution sphere. We see increasing protectionism in many countries and markets, where international trade rules are being neglected increasingly more flagrantly. In this context, the EAEU must set a high standard for trade cooperation and integration.

We are also doing well in the sphere of international cooperation. This year we signed a free trade agreement with Iran and an agreement on trade and economic cooperation with China. All the necessary procedures concerning these agreements should be completed in the near future. I hope that this will create additional advantages for our economies. At the same time, we should continue talks with our other partners, both individual states such as Singapore, Serbia, Israel, Egypt and India and integration associations, including China’s well-known initiative and several other projects.

We have held successful summit meetings on this matter. I recently updated my colleagues on the meeting I attended, the APEC Leader’s Week. We are also strengthening cooperation between the EAEU and the CIS. This year we have established the status of EAEU observer countries, which offers more opportunities for cooperation.

Documents signed following the meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council:

Directive on developing the concept for using special arrangements (“regulatory sandboxes”) as part of implementing the Union’s digital agenda;

Directive on progress in removing obstacles on the domestic market of the Eurasian Economic Union in 2017 - 2018;

Instruction on the results of executing Eurasian Intergovernmental Council Instruction No. 6 of 27 July 2018;

Directive on amending Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Resolution No. 90 of 29 May 2018;”

Directive on the system of labelling goods with control (identification) marks;

Directive on approving the programme of activities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Eurasian project and the 5th anniversary of signing the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union in 2019;

Resolution on the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council draft resolution “The budget of the Eurasian Economic Union for 2019;”

Resolution on the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council resolutions “The report on budget performance of the Eurasian Economic Union for 2017;”

Directive on auditing the financial and economic activities of the Court of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Eurasian Economic Commission;”

Directive on joint forecasts for the development of the agro-industrial complex, the balance of supply and demand of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union for agricultural products, food, flax fibre, raw hides, cotton fiber and wool for 2018-2019;

Directive on the action plan to promote the production and use of wheeled vehicles with electric engines in the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union for 2018-2020;

Resolution on amending Eurasian Intergovernmental Council Resolution No. 9 of 8 September 2015;

Directive on presenting a candidate for member of the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission to the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council;

Directive on the time and place of the next meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council.

A joint news conference by Dmitry Medvedev and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan following a meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council

Excerpts from the transcript:

Joint news conference by Dmitry Medvedev and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan following the meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council

Dmitry Medvedev: We have completed a regular meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council. Let me, once again, thank our Belarusian friends for their heartfelt welcome and well-organised event. This is a difficult job and we do it through discussion, so good conditions are needed.

Today we discussed strategic directions, specific matters regarding the development of the Eurasian Union. Let me point out again, that generally, fairly good economic indicators have been achieved and common markets are being shaped within the parameters and in the areas that are stipulated in the EAEU founding treaty. A case in point is the growth of internal and external trade. This creates conditions that encourage companies to invest in new projects. And this, on the whole, increases the practical output of integration.

In a time of tremors on international markets, trade wars that are being waged today in various countries, using various methods and on various markets, the value of our integration-based association, in this sense, increases, because we act according to common rules, trying to achieve common results, allowing our economies to develop and our businesses to make investments. All this is valuable in an era of instability in the world trade system.  

Regarding the outcomes, we have taken decisions on certain industries, they are all known. There are difficult issues which require more work. They include establishing a common oil and gas market, and work on the design of the Union’s financial market. We have agreed that we will combine our efforts in this area.

The Eurasian Commission reported on the results of work to remove various restrictions and barriers in the Eurasian Union’s market in 2017–2018. We are overseeing this work. The countries always have reciprocal claims here which is hardly surprising. The only way to somehow sort out this backlog is to make certain compromises and consistently work to lift various restrictions and barriers that stand in the way of our common economic market’s progress.

We have begun work on forming the foundations of the Union’s digital economy. It is one of the major areas of our activities. Unlike other areas where countries can advance at different speeds, in my view it is impossible to move at different speeds on digital.  

Either we all go digital or one country or another will be sidelined and will not be able to participate in transactions at the interstate level or at the business level. Either that or we will all have to go back to the past and give up the advantages of the digital agenda. This is why we must move in unison on the digital agenda.  

We selected eight projects. Two dozen more, as I have already said, are under review. We hope more favourable conditions will be created to carry out those initiatives. We have agreed today to draft a concept for applying special regimes called “regulatory sandboxes.”

 Also, joint forecasts for the development of the agricultural industry have been considered today, including an assessment of the demand for and production of particular produce, foodstuffs. We have agreed to encourage the production and use of electric vehicles. We have discussed a draft budget. Overall, all the decisions that were to be signed have been adopted. I expect this will create good conditions for celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Eurasian project and the fifth anniversary of signing the Union Treaty. A special programme was devised for celebrating the event. We have approved it today.

Let me thank our Belarusian colleagues again for organising the work and let me state that I think that on the whole we did a good job.  

Tigran Sargsyan: Usually, at the prime minister level, we bring up issues that require the coordinated positions of our national governments and on which sharp discussions unfold. Today’s agenda is no exception. Agreements were reached today on a number of conceptual matters on the creation of common markets, which will enable us to push these matters forward at the board level. Mr Medvedev mentioned the items that were debated today. But the main thing is that we managed to reach agreements on how we will push these matters forward. We will prepare some of these items and we will inform the presidents at the Supreme Council. A meeting of the Supreme Council will take place in St Petersburg in early December, and all the matters that we agreed on today will be submitted to the presidents as well. All the matters that Mr Medvedev mentioned will be on free access, so you can take a detailed look at the decisions we adopted. We were very productive today, which will enable us to advance our integration project considerably.

Question: Mr Medvedev, did you discuss the incident in the Kerch Strait with your colleagues today? What do you think about this and how do you see the incident?

Dmitry Medvedev: We did not discuss any incidents today because the Eurasian Commission’s agenda is about entirely different matters. This is a bilateral issue. Clearly, this is not a topic for discussion in Minsk.

But I can give an opinion on this. My thoughts are fairly simple.  

Some Ukrainian analysts warned as far back as a year ago that events might take a similar turn, considering how the election campaign was going in Ukraine. It is obvious that, given the current situation, incumbent President Poroshenko has no chance to win the election and, perhaps, has no chance to even make it to the second round. Therefore, in order to achieve a certain political outcome benefiting the incumbent president, that provocation was committed. The result is the introduction of martial law that enables the current authorities to do a little muscle-flexing and earn more popular support – this is one of the possible versions. Or, perhaps, the maximalist version was attempted – I mean cancelling the elections, something that Ukrainian analysts also warned of around a year ago.

It is worth mentioning the reaction of the Ukrainian establishment, Ukrainian political figures, including ex-presidents, who asked a question that, in my opinion, is obvious: why was martial law not declared in far more complicated situations that the Ukrainian state has found itself in, while this particular incident was used as the basis for imposing martial law? The answer is also quite clear. Because this is politics, election tactics or political tactics. That is precisely how it has been perceived inside Ukraine itself and how I perceive it. Evidently, this will further complicate the processes unfolding in Ukraine. This will create or might create serious problems for the Ukrainian economy and, certainly, it does nothing to improve relations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

All the other assessments were given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other agencies that have already commented on this very unfortunate incident.