The Eurasian Economic Union and Implications for Asia |

The Eurasian Economic Union and Implications for Asia

The birth of a new Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belorussia in May 2014 will improve the quality of life in all three countries. It will also create new business opportunities with other trade blocs like the European Union and ASEAN, according to Ambassador Yerlan Idrissov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. He said this is why the Eurasian grouping should not be viewed as an attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to resurrect the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Mr Idrissov spoke on how the EEU could in fact act as an economic bridge between Asia and Europe in a talk chaired by Professor Kanti Prasad Bajpai, Vice-Dean of Research and Wilmar Chair of Asian Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Benefits for all three countries

The EEU, which will come into effect in January 2015, will allow all three member countries to tap one another’s strengths, said Mr Idrissov. Kazahkstan will gain access to Russia’s vastly larger population for its goods and services, boosting its market from its native population of 17 million to nearly 200 million. Russia can also learn from Kazakhstan, which the World Bank has called one of the most investment-friendly places on the globe.

The new union will encourage competition among businesses since it will allow free movement of capital, workforce, goods and services across all three nations. “Within one economic space without barriers, industries will try to catch up to make sure they do not lose in the competition,” said Mr Idrissov. “This is the philosophy which will drive all of us forward.”

He added that the goal is not to become a single entity, but to bring the countries’ economic systems closer together to boost their industries such as energy, nuclear, finance and agriculture. “We can complement our efforts and multiply them rather than oppose each other,” he said, adding that this will ultimately improve the quality of life for people in all three countries.

Bridging Asia and Europe

The countries’ economic development will also benefit their neighbours and trade partners, said Mr Idrissov, who noted that all three union members do significant business with Europe. “Connectivity is one of the most important drivers of growth,” he said. “The Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union can be natural, complementary partners rather than competitors.”

With the three countries located between Europe and Asia, the grouping can also act as an economic bridge between the two regions. China, located next to Kazakhstan, is a giant powerhouse on the rise. Belorussia, which is also called Belarus, counts Europe as its neighbour. Russia stretches all the way into the Asia Pacific.

“We also find ourselves in the neighbourhood of other important countries like Iran, and we have the Central Asian countries to the south,” said Mr Idrissov.

“We call ourselves Eurasian, and a very strong part of being Eurasian is being Asian,” he said. “We understand the mentality and philosophy of Asia. By being Eurasian we can position ourselves as the bridge between global modern trends. That is why the Eurasian Economic Union opens up all sorts of business and economic possibilities when it comes to Europe and Asia.”

The way forward

That said, “great effort is needed on the ground level, especially in the private sector, to make sure ideas are delivered as they are contemplated,” said Mr Idrissov. The three countries will study other trade blocs such as the European Union and ASEAN, and models like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organisation.

The union will also be guided by international law. “The workings of the union will be based on fairness, and decisions will be made on a consensus basis among the three countries,” he said, rejecting speculation that the new group is simply an attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to revive the USSR, which had Moscow as its capital. “The three countries are all well-balanced and there will be checks and balances along the decision making process,” he said.

“Formally the union will start operations in January 2015, and that is the start of the story,” said Mr Idrissov. “We will start building and fine-tuning institutions, taking into account the local experience.”

He singled out Singapore as an important partner in this exercise. “We take great interest in Singapore’s experience in many areas,” he said, pointing to the Republic’s efficiency and expertise in education and public policy, energy-saving measures and the green economy. “That experience can be brought to the ground in the Eurasian union.”


On 28 August 2014, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Yerlan Idrissov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, gave an evening talk titled “The Eurasian Economic Union and Implications for Asia”. The talk was chaired by Prof Kanti Prasad Bajpai, the Vice Dean of Research and the Wilmar Chair of Asian Studies at the LKY School. A graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Mr Idrissov speaks English, Hindi, Urdu and French. Since joining the diplomatic service of Kazakhstan in 1985, he has held the posts of 1st Secretary of Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, Head of the Department of America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and Assistant of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. He has also served as the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Ireland and the United States.   

Synopsis:

Kazakhstan, Russia and Belorussia signed an agreement to establish a new Eurasian Economic Union on the 29th May 2014 in Astana. The birth of this new association is one of the initiatives of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev that was generated in March 1994. The next questions arising from this regional integration are: - Is the new association is a revival of the former USSR or competitor to the EU? What the rest of the world can expect and what are the direct implications for Asia of the new Eurasian Economic Union, which will start its operations from the 1st January 2015 in the heart of Eurasia. These questions will be addressed at the LKY School by Ambassador Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan on the 28th August 2014.

Speaker(s):

Ambassador Yerlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Date:
Thursday, 28 August 2014
Time:
5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Venue:

Seminar Room 3-1,
Manasseh Meyer,
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,
469C Bukit Timah Road,
Singapore 259772

RSVP:
Admission is free. Please register at

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