The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) does not look for new members to join the organization, forming a single economic and cultural space is much more important, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Bangkok Post on the eve of the ASEAN Business Investment Summit and the 14th East Asia Summit.
"Ultimately, formal accession to the EAEU is not that important. We have a different vision of what the Greater Eurasian Partnership is. It is about creating an entire economic and cultural space where people can freely communicate, trade, travel and discover new opportunities for themselves. Their rights and property will be protected by clear legal guarantees that are binding on all partners," he said.
Medvedev noted that interest in cooperating with the EAEU in any format is increasing, as Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have created a major common market with almost 184 million consumers. "Our countries’ aggregate GDP totals about $2 trillion. The Eurasian Five countries are showing an increase in the manufacturing industry and agriculture, and the volume of cargo trade is up as well," he said. "We continue to expand cooperation in almost all areas. We are working to create a common financial market, coordinating our efforts as we fight counterfeiting, and also cooperation on digital projects," Medvedev added.
According to Prime Minister, another major EAEU advantage is its flexible approach to cooperation with other countries and interregional associations. "We’ve been acting extremely pragmatically from the outset of this integration project. In the EAEU, no one is exerting pressure on individuals, companies or states. There are no ideology-driven issues on our agenda. We do not use trade wars, as we understand that closed markets are a thing of the past, and protectionism is bad for competition," he said.
He noted that the Eurasian Economic Union offers mutually beneficial partnerships. "I think this is one of the reasons the Eurasian Economic Union is not just causing interest, but is becoming popular at almost all levels of international cooperation, including supranational organizations. As you may recall, the course on strategic rapprochement with the EAEU is among the priorities of the 2025 ASEAN Consolidated Strategic Action Plan," Medvedev told the newspaper.
EAEU is actively promoting cooperation with individual countries, including in formats such as free trade agreements, Medvedev added. "We have adopted a thoughtful approach to this decision. Vietnam was the first such country in 2015. It has worked out very well for both of us. Our trade continues to grow and was up 10% by the end of 2018 to about $6.7 billion now. Most recently, on 27 October, an interim free trade zone agreement with Iran entered into force. Agreements have been signed with Singapore and Serbia. Talks are underway with India, Israel and Egypt," he said.