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Prime Ministers of the EAEU Countries Discussed Formats and Mechanisms for Interaction in Digital Sphere

Prime Ministers of the EAEU Countries Discussed Formats and Mechanisms for Interaction in Digital Sphere

Within the framework of the "Digital Agenda in the Age of Globalization" forum held on February, 2 in Almaty (Republic of Kazakhstan), the Heads of Governments of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) discussed the EAEU Digital Agenda, creation of a joint program for digital transformation and electronic confidence space, and interaction on the issues related to the use of cryptocurrency. The event was organized on the initiative of Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Its sessions were attended by Members of the Board – Ministers of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), official delegations from Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, as well as representatives of a number of large international IT companies.

Combining efforts in digitalization issues will bring synergism for the development of the EAEU, said Nursultan Nazarbayev in his welcome address. It was pointed out that the existence of a common market of the Union requires the development of joint approaches and measures in digitalization matters.

Introducing a national digital agenda, Karen Karapetyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, dwelled on the active development of information technologies in his country. Over the last few years, the annual growth in this area amounts to approximately 25%. According to the results of the year 2017, it is expected to reach 28-30%. Six key areas of digital development in Armenia have been defined: digital government, cybersecurity, private sector, institutional framework, digital skills and infrastructure. By the year 2030, Armenia is planning to achieve 100% digitalization in the State – business relationship, and 80% concerning the provision of services to citizens.

"Digital transformation is not merely a step towards technological progress, it’s the only chance to become a state with an effective economy management system in the shortest possible time”, expressed his confidence Karen Karapetyan. – ”There is no alternative here”.

According to Andrey Kobyakov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, no country in the world is able to face contemporary challenges in the sphere of high technologies on its own. "Only coordinated joint actions as part of the implementation of our common digital agenda will allow us to reach leading positions both on the scale of the Eurasian continent and globally", believes Andrey Kobyakov.

In this connection, Belarus proposes two initiatives for consideration. The first one is integration of the digital infrastructure of the EAEU countries, which involves not only introduction of uniform standards, but also common management of the physical infrastructure, formation of full-scale digital transport corridors in the East-West direction.

The second initiative implies transition from a coordinated policy in the digital sphere to a single strategy for participating countries of the Union. "We suggest that a common program for digital transformation of the EAEU be developed, and not at the level of general principles and approaches – they go without saying, but with specific measures and deadlines for their implementation", noted the Head of the Belarusian Government, "Only in this case we’ll be able to talk about genuine, and not just declarative, integration in the digital sphere".

Belarus has already defined digital transformation as a key priority for national development. The country’s strategy is based on three main standings: creation of the most attractive conditions for the activities of leading IT companies, total elimination of barriers preventing the introduction of new technologies, formation of an ecosystem for innovation. In particular, Andrey Kobyakov reported about the creation of the Information Technology Park with preferential conditions for business, and about the legalization of businesses based on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

The importance of implementing a joint digital agenda was also mentioned by Sapar Isakov, Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic. According to him, it will allow for integrating and effectively coordinating efforts to achieve common objectives in the digital sphere, promoting regional development, improving the competitiveness of participating countries, facilitating growth in prosperity of citizens.

Sapar Isakov reminded that Kyrgyzstan has developed "Taza Koom”, a national digital transformation program. "It will allow us to optimize government expenditures, increase the state budget revenues, eradicate certain corrupt elements", noted the Head of the Kyrgyz Government. He also reported that the opportunity to use cryptocurrency in government procurement is being studied.

Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, emphasized in his speech that, although each country of the Union follows its own path in developing high technologies, it is important to be able to integrate ourselves into the digital sphere. "In our country it often turns out that even programs adopted in several different ministries cannot integrate between them”, said the Head of the Kazakh Government, “If we are talking about integrating within a single digital platform of the EAEU, we ought to consider very seriously how we intend to combine it all. The important thing here is probably creating the best conditions for technological business activity".

Dmitry Medvedev, Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, stated the necessity of reliable, easy and transparent regulatory mode for digital processes, moreover, at the cross-border level. An important challenge here will be resisting hacker attacks, cyber fraud and terrorist activities.

According to Dmitry Medvedev, digital integration within the Union can include three elements. The first one, conventionally named EAEU Data X, is a single subsystem for electronic data transfer and exchange. It is a platform that can be used to exchange information, and ultimately to exchange legally relevant protocols between private companies.

The second element is EAEU ID – a single electronic confidence space. It includes services for identification, authentication, authorization, digital archive. This will allow, for instance, issuing references to the citizens of one country within the territory of another country in a digital format.

The third element – EAEU Geo – is a geographic information system and cartographic base services, which facilitate monitoring transportation and traceability of products.

"Those are the tools that will create the framework of our cooperation", said the Head of the Russian Government, “Of course, we need to agree on common standards, on correlation of our national solutions. We are ready to provide our competence to all our friends and partners, practically free of charge."

Speaking of cryptocurrency, Dmitry Medvedev noted that its regulation cannot be implemented within the framework of a single country and must be supranational. "We need to bring together our approaches at the level of the Union. I'm not even mentioning that, ideally, international conventions must be drawn up with regard to cryptocurrency", believes the Head of the Russian Government.

Abdulla Aripov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan, who also took part in the Forum, called for joint efforts of CIS countries to improve the system of human capital development, as well as to establish a joint platform for integration partnership between traditional financial institutions and innovative companies in the sphere of financial technologies. Such cooperation contributes to joint implementation of innovative digital products on the financial markets of the CIS countries.

For reference

The "Digital Agenda in the Age of Globalization" forum is held on the initiative of Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In October 2017, at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, Heads of the EAEU Member States approved the Main Directions of the Digital Agenda until 2025, and also supported the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan to hold a special meeting on digitalization of the EAEU economy.

Today the world-leading countries invest substantial resources in the development of digital industries using the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The main objective of the Forum is to elaborate joint measures that would accelerate the development of domestic digital economies, increasing their competitiveness, and also to facilitate in finding ways for receiving further dividends based on country benefits and regional integration transformation.