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EEC Minister in charge of Trade Andrey Slepnev: "We should solve the current crisis jointly with our main trading partners - China and Europe"

EEC Minister in charge of Trade Andrey Slepnev: "We should solve the current crisis jointly with our main trading partners - China and Europe"


Despite the decline in international trade, slumping demand, increased risks as well as rising protectionism, new opportunities are opening up for the economies of the Eurasian Economic Union Member States. This was reported by Andrey Slepnev, Minister in charge of Trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission, speaking on June 5 at the International Forum "Russia's Export Strategy amid Global Uncertainty: role of business associations, development institutions and authorities". The forum was held via videoconferencing within the Russian Business Weeks – 2020. The event was organized by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) under the auspices of the Coordination Council for Export Promotion.

"The situation is far from being optimistic. The decline in foreign trade is speeding up. At the year-end, trade with third countries decreased by 2.7%, the decline was 8.8% in the first quarter of 2020," Andrey Slepnev stated. "The internal trade has gone in the red as well, however trade in non-primary non-energy goods has shown a positive momentum (+2.8%)."

At the same time, the Minister has noted positive trends: a global increase in stocks associated with the food security policy of many countries to insure against the second wave of spreading coronavirus. In this regard, it is important for the Union not to miss the opening niche. "The growth of trade in agri-food products and nomenclature is in double digits. This is good and means that we will consolidate our position in this market," Andrey Slepnev emphasized. Today, there are already serious projects that concern agricultural trains to China and transportation of refrigerated cargo. In addition to the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan are actively involved in the process.

Due to the fact that the multilateral trading system is currently in crisis, according to the Minister, more dynamic work is required in the sphere of regional and bilateral agreements. Negotiations with Egypt and Israel are currently underway, negotiations with India are being intensified and new negotiations with the ASEAN countries are being discussed. "But here, of course, the key is that we need to build up a direct dialogue with business," Andrey Slepnev believes. "All negotiations should be related to understanding the specific interests of businesses and projects in order to convert them into real transactions."

Separately, the Minister has touched on the Great Eurasian Partnership - from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Nowadays, the EEC is developing a dialogue on implementing the Agreement with China: regular contacts at the ministerial level are scheduled over the next week.

Moreover, the Commission has strengthened its work with the EU within the technical dialogue. "We are actively discussing measures of the crisis bailout plan as well as issues of technical regulation, connectivity of infrastructure, customs and the environment. It seems to us that it is very important now to immediately hold a course for solving this crisis jointly with our main trading partners - first of all, China and Europe," Andrey Slepnev expressed his confidence.

Before yielding the floor, the Minister has noted the importance of adopting and implementing specific decisions and measures. Besides, "we should come up with new mechanisms as it is difficult to imagine that investors and exporters would maintain their level of activity in this whole situation, when the "storm" and risks have increased. Someone has to assume the risks." From this perspective, it is necessary to strengthen efforts to support exports, primarily jointly manufactured products, and lay the groundwork for developing export reinsurance and credit support. All interested structures of the EAEU countries have started joint work in this direction. It is planned to reach real decisions soon.

For reference

By the end of 2019, the EAEU-EU trade turnover amounted to 327.3 bln dollars or 44.6%. The trade turnover with China was at the level of 132.5 bln dollars or 18.1%.​