More than five years since the signing of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, we can confidently say that the EAEU realised itself as a successful regional integration association. By developing relationships within the organisation, the member countries of the Union continue to pursue a progressive economic cooperation policy.
It should be noted, that over the past years, mutual trade in goods between the EAEU member states have shown steady growth. So, in 2016, the volume of mutual trade amounted to $ 43 billion, while in 2017 this figure increased by 27.3%, reaching $ 54.7 billion. According to the 2018 results, trade grew by 9.2% to $ 59.7 billion. Although the figures for the first quarter of 2019 indicate a decrease in trade volumes by 7% compared to the same period last year, it is too early to talk about a serious slowdown.
As far as Kazakhstan goes, the share of the country's mutual trade in the total volume of foreign trade of the EAEU in the first 3 months of 2019 increased to 21.8%. Although the volume of Kazakhstani exports to the EAEU market decreased by 4.8%, the share of the republic in mutual exports and imports increased to 10.2% and 23.3% respectively.
In general, the member countries are faced with the task of preventing the integration reforms from weakening the EAEU. The experience of joint consultations allows the member countries to expect, in the future, a qualitative change in the structure and proportions of mutual trade. The daily work on the coordination of economic cooperation issues, primarily within the Eurasian Economic Commission, clearly shows that there are incentives to overcome difficulties.
The demand for the development of interaction with key integration associations within Greater Eurasia, where the EAEU has a chance to become a “centre of gravity”, is becoming increasingly obvious. At the same time, the most promising process, in this respect, is the implementation of the confluence between the EAEU and the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. Moreover, the EAEU medium-term plans envisage the launch of trade liberalisation talks with ASEAN and MERCOSUR, with which memorandums of understanding have already been signed. On the agenda is a similar document with the African Union. In the future, similar consultations are planned to begin with the EU.
Finally, an important point is the expansion of the strategic contours of the EAEU. It should be noted, that as the process of economic integration continues to deepen, it will be necessary to strengthen the positions of the EAEU in the WTO, which underscores the need for obtaining observer status in this international organisation.