It should be noted that this year marks five years since the signing of the Union Treaty and 25 years of the idea of Eurasian integration.
The meeting was traditionally held in a narrow and extended formats. The agenda included 16 issues concerning trade and economic cooperation and expansion of mutual trade between the member states, as well as the development of integration potential in certain sectors of the economy.
In a narrow composition, there was an exchange of views on topical issues of economic interaction. In particular, the instruments for the further expansion of trade between the member states of the Union were discussed, including through the unification of legislation in the areas of trade, energy, agriculture, transport and logistics, tax and customs policy. In addition, prospects for improving the system of mutual recognition of a number of documents in the field of education are considered. Attention was also paid to the mechanisms for implementing projects within the framework of the EAEU digital agenda.
In an expanded composition, the members of the Intergovernmental Council summed up the development of trade between the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union in 2018, reviewed the macroeconomic situation in the countries of the Union and heard proposals from the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission to ensure sustainable economic development further.
In his speech the Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev noted that in 2018, by common efforts, a “portfolio” of assets was accumulated, which must be further developed. The implementation of the EAEU Digital Agenda was actively studied. The Office of Digital Initiatives management received dozens of promising proposals, some of which have already been launched for study. The agreed list of barriers is being updated on an ongoing basis, following the 2018 results, 17 obstacles were removed. In addition, at the previous meeting of the High Council (Dec. 6, 2018), the Heads of State approved the Programs for the Formation of Common Markets for Gas, Oil and Petroleum Products, and also adopted a Declaration on the further development of integration processes within the EAEU. As part of the formation of a common market, a unified regulation on the safety of alcoholic beverages has been developed, which has been worked on for 9 years. The work on draft Agreements on the principles of tax policy in the field of excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco is being completed.
At the same time, the need to form a new roadmap for removing obstacles for the next two years was indicated. It is important to finish the negotiation process on the formation of a free trade zone with Singapore and Serbia, as well as to intensify trade negotiations with Israel and Egypt. The creation of favorable conditions for access to these markets will significantly contribute to the realization of the export potential of the EAEU countries.
The Kazakhstan side also noted the priority of social issues, in particular, for developing the Agreement on the provision of pensions for citizens of the EAEU countries. These issues were raised by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev during the last meeting of the High Council.
Following the meeting, a number of documents were adopted on the standards for the distribution of import duties, on the access of Kazakh exporters of coal to the services of seaports of the Russian Federation, as well as the mechanisms for implementing projects under the digital agenda of the Eurasian Economic Union were approved and the draft Agreement on the Regulation of Alcohol. In addition, orders were adopted on the state of mutual trade, the macroeconomic situation in the EAEU member states and proposals for ensuring sustainable economic development, as well as on holding regular consultations between the member countries of the Union.
One of the key agenda items was the signing of the Shipping Agreement, designed to simplify the transportation procedures for the ships of the Union member states and create a single legal framework for regulating relations arising when sailing ships on inland waterways of the EEU countries. In turn, for Kazakhstan, the signing of the Agreement is of strategic importance and will allow the domestic fleet to pass along the internal waterways of Russia to the Black and Baltic Sea as soon as possible.
The next meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council will be held in late April – early May, 2019, in Yerevan (Armenia).