The COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying cooperation between Eurasian partner countries
You know, any crisis is also an opportunity. And when we are talking about close people and close countries, any misfortune nevertheless brings us closer. I can simply see this as a member of the [Eurasian Economic Commission] Council, how all of us Council members quickly grouped together and began specifically solving the problems that primarily aimed to protect our people and our countries. We took very rapid and effective decisions, which truly enabled us to provide people with personal protective equipment very quickly, and we took decisions related to the import of the appropriate medical materials and equipment. We quickly approved long lists so that all of this would enter our market as soon as possible and with the fewest number of obstacles and be available to our people — Alexey Overchuk, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.
You know that India has historical ties with the [Eurasian] Economic Union. You know that we have great ties with the people of your countries. COVID, of course, dealt a massive blow to the economic ties of our countries, but we understand that, despite this, we have found opportunities to overcome these difficulties and continue cooperation with partners in the Eurasian region. I want to thank you for such a fruitful dialogue in your group. I believe that we share common points of view and we understand that partnership is extremely important for us [...] As for our cooperation with the Union, you know that our cooperation is estimated at several billion dollars, and over the past year it increased by 57% — Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India.
Despite the measures that have been taken, we believe it will be very difficult to get out of this situation alone. And I agree with you and your opinion that we have not yet entered the post-COVID period [...] I’m also not pessimistic about the future and, of course, I believe that the future will mainly depend on the level of cooperation. Azerbaijan is not a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, but due to its geographical location, economic potential, and history, it is an important participant in this cooperation — Shahin Mustafayev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
If we are talking about the trade policy of the Eurasian Economic Union, then, despite the entire existing multi-vector relationship to globalization, to put it mildly, that we have seen recently in the world, the Eurasian Economic Union has consistently demonstrated its commitment, if not to globalization, then to regionalization. And the provisional agreement that we managed to reach with Iran in the pre-COVID period really works. We see an increase in our trade figures with Iran in exports during the COVID period, and this is precisely the comfortable norm that exists. And I am extremely happy that negotiations from the provisional agreement are moving into negotiations on a permanent free trade zone. The negotiations that are underway with India and the negotiations between Iran and Azerbaijan on free trade are what shapes a regime that consistently allows us and our exporters to say that everything should be good and stable at least in the region — Veronika Nikishina, Chief Executive Officer, Russian Export Centre.
As for integration itself – I’m not referring to the economy and medical sectors – it seems to me that our Eurasian integration has been sick with COVID overall or will be sick in a relatively mild form […] What opportunities are being created during COVID? I would highlight three points. First, of course, we are all waiting for the soonest possible decision to lift the latest package of suffocating sanctions against Iran, and this, of course, will open up new trade opportunities for us as neighbours — Andrey Slepnev, Minister of Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission (Russia).