Comment by Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov following the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Eurasian Economic Commission

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RUSSIA, March 18 – Maxim Reshetnikov Economic Development

Maxim Reshetnikov: The Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission held a meeting during which a very important set of measures, drafted by a high-level working group, was discussed. The group includes representatives from the Ministries of Economy, Central Banks and Ministries of Finance of all EAEU countries. This is a broad package of priority measures intended to stabilize the current situation. It includes 33 measures aimed at implementing customs regulations, stabilizing financial markets and mutual payments, and streamlining the systemic development of the EAEU.

It was a large-scale effort that we have pursued diligently over the past two weeks. Why is it important to ensure this kind of synchronization and integration at the UEE level? Here are a few points.

First, trade with the countries of the EAEU represents almost 15% of the total trade of our countries. Secondly, the volume of trade is increasing year on year, and has increased by more than a third compared to 2020. But even if we deduct the reduction due to Covid-19 in 2020, the volume has increased by 17 % from 2019 levels. I mean that we understand that this mutual trade creates jobs in our countries and allows us to maintain cooperation. This is why it is so important to keep the unified space of the UEE, mainly related to trade, in these difficult circumstances. In addition, all decisions relating to import rates, import duties, import benefits, quotas, etc. were entrusted to the UEE. This means that the total quantity of goods brought into our unified customs territory is governed by unified rules, unified certificates, etc.

This is why it has been very important to synchronize these issues at a time when countries, mainly Russia and Belarus, are facing sanctions, logistical problems and import restrictions. The plan that has been designed synchronizes these issues. More than that, the plan is already being implemented and a number of critical issues were resolved at yesterday’s Board meeting.

First of all, this of course concerns import duties. Yesterday we eliminated duties on 458 import items. The Russian Federation receives $19 billion worth of imports from these positions. Importers and, in the long run, consumers will save more than $500 million. In other words, this measure should reduce pressure on prices. And, of course, this includes very important supplies for Russian companies. These issues are related to food, mainly baby food, purees, etc. These are primarily components for engineering goods, transportation systems. Add to this components for the chemical industry, important construction elements to stabilize the building materials markets, etc. In fact, 458 posts makes a very long list, and this work will continue in the future.

We discussed the second very important issue, namely mutual payments and settlements in rubles. In other words, the rights collected by each country are then distributed in certain proportions, formalized by the Union Treaty, and are consequently transferred to the budgets of the countries concerned. Previously, this involved the use of foreign currencies. We have now agreed to introduce payments and settlements in national currencies, step by step. Russia finds it very important that most of the duties we receive and distribute are calculated in rubles. So we started to establish a common ruble zone.

Some important issues relate to simplified import procedures. We have discussed these issues here, at the national level, and we have adopted interim decisions. And now we are formalizing them at the supranational level, at the level of all the countries of the Union…

This concerns, first of all, the use of copies of certificates confirming the quality and safety of the goods. Previously, it was necessary to provide the original documents in all cases where they were delivered by air, etc., but now importers are facing problems. To facilitate these uninterrupted deliveries, we have analyzed all these procedures and have approved several of them. We will continue our work, because there are quite a few topics, and each country has its own nuances and positions. But it is very important that we helped resolve these issues, many of which had been discussed by us for years, in such a short time. We have achieved results in two or three weeks, while working hard on the instructions of the leaders of our countries, and positive momentum is underway.

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