Wider Eurasia
Eurasian Integration in New Realities
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy Boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On April 17, 2024, the Valdai Club held an expert discussion dedicated to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) as the core of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. The discussion was moderated by Timofei Bordachev.

Georgy Arzumanyan, Deputy Director of the Industrial Policy Department of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) emphasised that in spite of today's unfavourable and uncertain economic conditions, the EAEU has proven its worth and effectiveness. A stable integration infrastructure has been formed with significant potential for further development. Speaking about industry as the main driver of economic development, Arzumanyan pointed out that in the real sector, there is now a “reboot” of global technology markets, as well as the relocalisation of production and logistics redistribution. Against this background, many states have moved “to the track of self-sufficiency”. This leads to the need to rethink the industrial policy of the EAEU. It is necessary to stimulate the influx of investment and technology transfer, possibly using the mechanism of special economic zones, the development of transport infrastructure and cooperative ties. Also important are such issues as ensuring connections between science and production, as well as the strengthening of human resources. “Work in these areas is fundamental,” Arzumanyan concluded.

Rakhim Oshakbaev, Director of the TALAP Centre for Applied Research, noted that the prospects for Eurasian integration largely depend on the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s future relations with Western countries and the world at large. “Our economic integration can hardly be far from the general political contour,” he added. Oshakbaev agreed with the opinion of those experts who believe that Kazakhstan, despite its initial role as one of the initiators of the integration process, is now generally impeding its development and is not inclined to support “the serious development and implementation of any integration documents.” In his opinion, this is due to the fact that, given the difficult economic situation in Kazakhstan, falling under secondary sanctions could become a “perfect storm” for the country. Oshakbaev sees two radical scenarios. The first of them, less likely, assumes that Kazakhstan will nevertheless decide to accelerate integration and develop common markets, having managed to neutralize the effect of secondary sanctions, and the second one - that it will become a kind of “window to Eurasia” for the West. In the second case, the territory of Kazakhstan will be used for non-conflict cooperation and investment.

“Russian exports exist, have existed and will exist,” said Dmitry Prokhorenko, Foreign Network Overseas Director of the Russian Export Centre, who spoke about Russia’s foreign economic activity in the context of Eurasian integration and about building bilateral chains of interaction with the EAEU countries and partner countries of the union. According to Prokhorenko, the Russian Export Centre actively promotes and supports Russian companies in friendly markets. The centre has opened representative offices in all EAEU countries and many CIS countries. It actively uses the tools of the special economic zones of the EAEU countries to create new production chains aimed at exporting to third countries and supplying components to assembly plants in Russia. Discussions are underway on the creation of a common reinsurance company to bring EAEU goods to the markets of third countries and on the creation of trade and logistics centres. Prokhorenko also reported on the instruments developed by the REC for insuring investments abroad, with the help of which many enterprises using Russian investments were created in the countries of the economic union.

“First and foremost, there should be self-regulating organisations among our countries and business associations. Then and only then we will be able to develop viable designs,” said Kubatbek Rakhimov, Executive Director of the Applicata-Centre for Strategic Solutions. He considers bureaucracy and slow “evolutionary” development as the main danger facing the EAEU, which does not take into account the latest changes in the world and the new realities of moving away from globalisation towards new, integrated economic blocs. Rakhimov announced the need to reform the Eurasian Economic Commission with the introduction of the Eurasian commissioner’s institution to resolve cross-sectoral issues and fill gaps not filled by the classical ministerial structures. In addition, according to him, the issue of the Eurasian Development Bank has not been resolved. The EDB should be an element within the EAEU; its interaction with the EEC is necessary. The key direction, Rakhimov argues, should be de-bureaucratisation and decentralisation, which, in particular, implies the distribution of EEC departments among the capitals of the countries. “We must move away from a self-sufficient bureaucratic structure to an effective, essentially corporate one,” he is convinced.  Don't be afraid to move forward. If we stay in old narratives, they will simply lead us to a dead end.”