Gaidar Forum experts discuss ways to develop EU-EAEU cooperation

The expert discussion, EU-EAEU: Is There Potential for Developing Interaction? was held on January 17, as part of the Ninth Gaidar Forum at RANEPA.

Vladimir Salamatov, Chairman of the EAEU Business Council Committee, General Director of the International Trade and Integration Research Centre, Head of the Foreign Trade Chair at RANEPA Graduate School of Corporate Management, moderated the discussion.

The discussion began with the participants trying to find common ground between alliances that have different backgrounds, but are very close to each other historically and culturally. The speakers showed slides and cited statistics on the joint development of the EU and EAEU.

Mr. Salamatov raised a number of issues concerning trade between Russia and the European Union. “The European market is our biggest partner, but at the same time it comes third in terms of the number of barriers for our products,” the moderator said.

In 2016, the speakers considered the potentially rewarding starting points for rapprochement in a similar discussion; they chose three – visa-free travel, technical and customs regulation, but unfortunately, these projects are still at the development stage.

The first speaker was Tatyana Valovaya, Member (Minister) of the Commission for Integration and Macroeconomics at Eurasian Economic Commission. The Eurasian Union was actually created thanks to the European Union, she said, so we need to develop integration projects for further rapprochement. “For us, the situation where the Customs Union became reality, while unfortunately, no such dialogue developed between the EU and the EAEU, which seemed absolutely logical, is absurd,” she added.

One of the most important issues was brought up by Marina Larionova, Vice-President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs for International Cooperation: are there impassable walls between the two unions or are they transparent?

“Unfortunately, the geopolitical situation is so dominant over business and creates such complicated conditions for cooperation that we have to look for new mechanisms of interaction,” Larionova said.

Summing up the expert discussion, we can say that tremendous opportunities have opened for Russia despite many problems. We have not stopped our interaction, and the investments of European businesses have not decreased much. European companies are not leaving Russia, which means there is a lot we can still do to improve our relations.

The organizers include the Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute) and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

The program outline is available at the forum website.

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The general partners of the Gaidar Forum are Gazprom and Gazprombank; strategic partners include Novartis, Johnson&Johnson, RZD, MSD, AstraZeneca, the ACIG Group of Companies, Mastercard, Coca-Cola, Russian Agricultural Bank, Pharmstandard JSC, Microsoft; O1 Group, Unilever, EY, Russian Brewers’ Union, Russian Direct Investment Fund are partners and RVC.

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