EDB delegates discuss Eurasian continental integration at the Eurasia 2013 Forum in Astana
Almaty, 11 September 2013. Eurasian continental integration was in the focus of the representative Eurasia 2013 Forum organised by the Emerging Markets Forum and Nazarbayev University in Astana. On Wednesday this issue was discussed at the session Regional Cooperation in the Eurasian Region and Developing Regional Trade and Investments. The session was moderated by Sergey Shatalov, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board at Eurasian Development Bank (EDB).
The participants in the discussion stated that economic ties on the Eurasian continent are undergoing fundamental changes. “The web of ties between Europe, North and Central Eurasia, South and Southeast Asia becomes increasingly dense,” said Evgeny Vinokurov, Director of the EDB Centre for Integration Studies, at the forum. “It is particularly visible in the area of trade and investment. Here Eurasia becomes not only more integrated, but also increasingly multipolar: Chinese and Russian transnational companies are now serious players all over the continent.”
According to Mr Vinokurov, integration is weaker in the area of migration: migration flows beyond the integrated labour markets of the European Union and the CIS remain scarce. However, activity has been growing in this area too over recent years, at intergovernmental, state and private levels.
Sergei Shatalov says that, “It is Eurasian integration that can become a key force to drive development on the continent by reducing barriers to trade and investment flows, the development of interstate transport corridors and power networks, the harmonisation of regulations in the labour markets and financial systems, the joint management of trans-border water resources and the joint fight against international threats such as drugs, terrorism and epidemics.”
Integration processes in certain Eurasian macro-regions are supplemented with continental integration. General infrastructure projects play a key role in continental integration in Eurasia since they create opportunities for the movement of goods, services and labour. Continental integration is largely connected with “bottom-up” integration because intergovernmental cooperation lags behind the development of economic ties. Although cooperation between Eurasian governments has deepened over the last decades, it still remains limited.
Evgeny Vinokurov believes that, “It would be naïve to expect the emergence of any form of a ‘united Eurasian coalition’ with common institutes, rules and standards, which would be similar to the EU.” Eurasian integration will develop as a network of localised and overlapping projects and communities aiming to solve certain tasks and problems.
According to the director of the Centre for Integration Studies, although Eurasian integration is potentially important to all countries on the continent, it is of special value to Russia and Central Asia. These countries benefit from the combination of two vectors of Eurasian integration: post-Soviet and continental.
The healthy and constructive competition between regional unions is quite possible in Eurasia. The formation of strong regional unions should not frighten. For example, the effective and dynamic Eurasian Economic Union could partner the European Union in implementing a deep integration model covering not only trade, but also capital flows, visa-free regimes, technical regulations and trans-border infrastructure.
Eurasian Development Bank is an international financial institution founded by Russia and Kazakhstan in January 2006 with the mission to facilitate the development of market economies, sustainable economic growth and the expansion of mutual trade and other economic ties in its member states. EDB’s charter capital exceeds US $1.5 billion. The member states of the Bank are the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, and the Republic of Tajikistan. Read more at https://www.eabr.org.
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