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Evgeny Vinokurov: EEU plays role of shock absorber of external shocks

At a meeting with Vladimir Putin, President Almazbek Atambayev once again discussed the results of Kyrgyzstan’s participation in the EEU. Director of the Center for Integration Studies of the Eurasian Development Bank Evgeny Vinokurov believes that, despite all the difficulties, the Eurasian Economic Union plays the role of shock absorber of external shocks for all its participants. He stated this to 24.kg news agency.

The expert noted that the EEU is a young integration association. It was created on the basis of a certain understanding of the long-term political and economic goals of the participating countries. In addition to solving geopolitical problems, the goal of the EEU is to help countries realize the potential of economic ties within the region, modernize national economies, and create conditions for increasing global competitiveness.

«Eurasian economic integration demonstrates serious success. There is a Customs Union and a common customs tariff, a common labor market is forming. One by one, the old All-Union standards are replaced by new technical regulations, an additional «Eurasian integration infrastructure» is functioning — the EEU court, the Eurasian Development Bank, the Eurasian Stabilization and Development Fund,» the expert believes.

The past year didn’t stop the negative dynamics in mutual trade. At the same time, the rate of decline of indicators for the EEU countries was significantly lower than outside the union.

At the same time, Evgeny Vinokurov notes that there are limitations for further development. In 2015-2016, the phase of rapid initial progress came to an end. This is indicated by complex processes of coordinating positions on the Customs Code and the general market for medicines and medical products. Both topics were the most important in 2016.

«The EEU, to some extent, plays the role of a «shock absorber» of the negative impact of external shocks. The volume of intra-union trade decreased by 6.7 percent compared to the fall in foreign trade turnover by 12 percent. The dynamics of foreign trade in Armenia should be noted. In 2016, exports of this country in value terms increased by 20 percent, in the countries of the EEU — by 53 percent. The export of this country to Russia grew by 51 percent, to Kazakhstan — by 43 percent, to Belarus —2.1 times. Mutual investments in the EEU rose by 8 percent in 2016 after three years of falling,» Evgeny Vinokurov recalled.

The dynamics of foreign trade of another new member of the EEU — Kyrgyzstan — was also positive. Exports to the EEU countries increased by 4.4 percent in 2016, exports to third countries — by 5.2 percent.

Evgeny Vinokurov

The expert recalls that the Union is actively working to reduce the level of non-tariff protection of the markets of the EEU. 81 obstacles have already been eliminated. But over 450 obstacles still remain. About 80 percent of them are with exemptions and restrictions. The rest don’t actually comply with the norms and legal field of the EEU.

«The pragmatic approach to Eurasian integration is based on understanding it not as a goal, but as an instrument for solving the economic problems of the states involved, the most important of which today is the modernization of economies,» Evgeny Vinokurov concluded.