Eurasian Economic Union may sign agreement on free trade zone with Serbia in October

The agreement of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on a free trade zone with Serbia is due to be signed in October 2019, member of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Veronika Nikishina said at the international conference “From Idea to Reality: 25th Anniversary of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Eurasian Initiative,” that is being held in the city of Nur-Sultan on Thursday.

“This year we ended negotiations with Serbia and are now launching the procedure for the signing of this agreement. We hope to sign it in October,” Nikishina said.

She noted that “just a step separates” the EAEU from “the end of negotiations with Singapore on a free trade zone.” “If we evince patience and will aimed at achieving results – we also want to sign this agreement this year,” the member of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission explained.

The conference gathered about 300 people, including management representatives for the Eurasian Economic Commission, the parliaments and the Russian and Kazakhstani foreign ministries.

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The European Union is no longer a key trade partner in export and import with the Eurasian Economic Union, and Asian countries have outshined it, Assistant Minister in charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Fedor Chernitsyn said.

“The anti-Russian sanctions have been affecting [trade relations]. According to our estimates, since introducing sanctions the European Union has lost nearly $300 bln. Since 2016, we have seen a tendency that if earlier the EU was our number one trade partner in terms of export and import, now Asian countries hold the top spot,” the official told the annual conference on the development of business contacts with EAEU at the Russian Cultural Center in Washington.

“We buy and import from Asia more than from Europe. This can be called a principal and historic consequence of sanctions that Asian business are replacing Europeans on our markets,” Chernitsyn said.

“We are a union of five, but four out of five countries have not been targeted by the EU sanctions. For us as a union this is a great challenge and a problem and it is difficult to correlate the sanctions regime between Russia and the EU with the common market’s regime. We have been doing a big job in this direction so that partners do not suffer from these restrictions,” the official said.

“Interest in cooperation with the union has been only growing. Chinese, Singapore and South Korean businesses are eagerly filling those niches emerging on our market,” Chernitsyn noted.

Speaking on if any country from the Commonwealth of Independent States has applied for joining the EAEU, he said: “We are open and always wait for our next-door neighbors. We don’t have such a task in the union to pursue propaganda, promote or encourage anyone for close integration with us. We don’t have such a task on our agenda, that’s why we are not doing this,” he stated.

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic organization, which brings together Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

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