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01 February 2021, 15:48

EAEU to set up free trade zones with Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mongolia

MOSCOW, 1 February (BelTA) – The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is conducting necessary work to conclude free trade agreements with Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Mongolia, Member of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Andrei Slepnev told a briefing on 1 February, BelTA has learned.

“We have serious instructions from the heads of state to increase activity within the development of trade agreements and free trade zones. In particular, we plan to resume the negotiation process in the first half of the year, to hold negotiations along the tracks that we have, with Egypt, the largest economy in Africa, and also with India. We held consultations, despite COVID-19, at a high, ministerial level. We hope that the solutions we have found will boost the negotiation process. We see a high interest of partners to cooperate with the EAEU,” Andrei Slepnev said.

A study of the prospects of developing free trade zones with Indonesia and Mongolia has begun in accordance with the decisions of the EEC Council. “We are working on several more directions and we will announce it when we come to an agreement. We expect that in this case we will be able to realize the historical ties and potential of geographical partnership in the part of Mongolia and strengthen the position, expand business opportunities in ASEAN. As for ASEAN we already have an agreement with Vietnam, and will soon ratify all the necessary procedures with Singapore. In addition still the largest economy of Indonesia, of course, will create the necessary critical mass for the active entry of our businesses into the ASEAN region, which is growing quite rapidly and will obviously be promising in the future,” the EEC minister said.

Andrei Slepnev stated that the first EAEU trade deal was an agreement with Vietnam. “During the first two years, exports [from the EAEU to Vietnam] increased quite actively: by 40%, then by another 30%. In 2019, there was a certain decline related to trade in wheat and other products. We can see that in 2020, despite all the difficulties, exports to Vietnam went up by more than 20%. We expect this trend to strengthen,” he said.

The EEC minister also touched on the status of negotiations on an already full-fledged trade deal with Iran. “There is no doubt that we intend to fulfill the obligations that the EAEU fixed when it signed the interim agreement on free trade with Iran, and this obligation envisaged the transition of negotiations to conclude a full-fledged deal within three years after the interim agreement came into force. The decision to move to negotiations was made by the presidents last year, and now we are preparing for the first consultations. We expect that we will be able to start full-fledged negotiations this year,” he stressed.

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