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Andrey Slepnev, EEC Minister in charge of Trade, called upon for using Verona Forum to strengthen historical ties with Europe

Andrey Slepnev, EEC Minister in charge of Trade, called upon for using Verona Forum to strengthen historical ties with Europe

Andrey Slepnev, Member of the Board – Minister in charge of Trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), attended an online conference dedicated to the 13th Eurasian Forum scheduled for October 22-23 in Verona. Pasquale Terracciano, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Russia, Antonio Fallico, President of the Conoscere Eurasia Association and Chairman of the Board of Banca Intesa, and Aleksandr Stuglev, Chairman of the Board and Director of the Roscongress Foundation, spoke at the event as well.

"We are now at such a point in history that after the events related to the COVID-19 pandemic the Greater Eurasia can either rally more strongly, or, on the contrary, divide," Andrey Slepnev stated. He has noted that there are contradictory tendencies, when, on the one hand, the competition in the markets increases due to sinking demand. In particular, this is the case of traditional commodities of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – metallurgy and mineral resources. On the other hand, the number of contacts decreases: businessmen fail to meet or meet only in the remote mode, the flow of tourists decreases and logistics costs increase.

"Certainly, all these are dangerous tendencies that contribute to increasing the isolation of economies and they should be surmounted. For this purpose, we all need a countercyclical policy aimed at reducing the risks and business expenses. I think the Forum in Verona can give good food for thought about what we can do in terms of regulation, infrastructure, e-commerce tools and digitalization," the EEC Minister in charge of Trade believes. According to him, these steps are required to strengthen connectivity and build a full-fledged infrastructure for the future.

Speaking about economic relations with the European Union (EU), Andrey Slepnev has noted a significant decline in trade with the EU: the EAEU exports declined by more than a third and imports decreased by about a quarter. According to him, this requires awareness and an answer to what measures should be taken in order to restore, strengthen and make existing historical ties and developments resistant to negative processes. "We are actively working for our part. We are engaged in a certain technical dialogue with the Europeans, and it is very important for us to use the EAEU’s venue as a non-political and economic organization, in order to promote contacts in these hard times and talk about specific things that affect business," the Minister stressed.

 Andrey Slepnev has noted that the Union is very actively working with China, with which an Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation was signed. The EAEU sees the practical application of the established dialogue mechanisms for coupling the Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative as priorities of interaction with the PRC. This may entail, in particular, implementing major transboundary projects in the field of transport, telecommunications and electrical power infrastructure, digital transformation as well as implementing the sectoral cooperation agenda.

The EAEU has already concluded preferential agreements or is negotiating with countries such as, in particular, Vietnam, Iran, Singapore, India, Israel and Egypt. The work has begun on joint study of prospects for free trade with Mongolia and Indonesia.​