Eurasian Economic Union Seeks China Cooperation, Free Trade with Iran

The Eurasian Economic Union and China are on track to entering into a trade and economic cooperation agreement that will be signed next month, two high-ranking sources in the Eurasian Economic Commission told Izvestya.

The two sides launched talks on the agreement, which primarily envisions easing up customs procedures and trade regulations that were introduced in June 2016. After five rounds of negotiations, the deal is almost ready for signing.

“Firstly, the agreement will be signed in May since the text has been already approved,” one of the newspaper’s sources said, adding that only technical details are left for the sides to hammer out, such as setting the date and time of the signing ceremony.

Alexander Gabuyev, head of the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told Izvestya that the deal in question is part of an initiative to set up a free trade zone between the EAEU and China.

“China is the world’s second-biggest economy, while for Russia, Kazakhstan and other EAEU member-states it is the largest trade partner, which makes it logical to improve conditions for developing trade with this country,” he said.

Furthermore, in just a couple of months, EAEU states will simplify trade with Iran, as Tehran will sign a relevant free trade agreement with the integrated organization, a representative from the Eurasian Economic Commission told Izvestia.

“It is going to be a temporary agreement, which will expire in three years. So, the sides will see how this mechanism works, what its shortcomings may be, and if there are none whatsoever, the free trade agreement will be extended,” he said. The source added that a similar agreement with Singapore is expected by the end of this year.

The Eurasian Economic Union is a political and economic union of states located primarily in northern Eurasia. Its members are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia.