Eurasian Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion: the Ball Starts Rolling

In Jan­uary 2012 the Eurasian Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion started func­tion­ing

Economy of Belarus - - CONTENTS - Tatyana POLEZHAI

In Jan­uary 2012 the Eurasian Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion

started func­tion­ing

Equal Rights and Op­por­tu­ni­ties

A new univer­sal reg­u­lat­ing body of the Cus­toms Union (CU) and the Sin­gle Eco­nomic Space (SES) is a unique in­sti­tu­tion on the post-soviet area. The main pur­pose of the Eurasian Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion that suc­ceeded the Cus­toms Union Com­mis­sion is to en­sure CU and SES proper func­tion­ing and de­vel­op­ment. It will be­come a work­ing decision-mak­ing body af­fect­ing key eco­nomic ar­eas of Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and Rus­sia. A high-level meet­ing held on 19 De­cem­ber 2011 where the pres­i­dents of Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and Rus­sia laid down the foun­da­tion and shaped the Eurasian Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion (EEC) was per­haps one of the most im­por­tant steps to­wards ex­tend­ing cus­toms in­te­gra­tion of the three coun­tries. At the same time, tran­si­tion from the CU Com­mis­sion to the EEC will be grad­ual in or­der to en­sure smooth suc­ces­sion and ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tion of the new body.

The first ses­sions of the EEC were held through Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary in Moscow. It goes with­out say­ing that no break­through de­ci­sions were made as the ses­sions, like any ini­tial meet­ings, were mostly fo­cused on the speedy for­ma­tion and launch of the Eurasian Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion.

The EEC Coun­cil elected its first chair­man at the first meet­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the mem­bers of the Coun­cil, Be­larus should take the lead and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter of Be­larus Sergei Ru­mas was elected chair­man. His main tasks are re­lated to ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues of the Coun­cil such as agenda and for­mal­iza­tion of decision-mak­ing. The chair­man will be elected on a ro­tat­ing ba­sis ev­ery year.

The mem­bers of the Board were also elected. The Board is headed by Vik­tor Chris­tenko. Tatyana Valo­vaya will be re­spon­si­ble for main in­te­gra­tion ar­eas and macro­eco­nomics, Timur Suleimenov is tasked with eco­nom­ics and fi­nan­cial pol­icy, Sergei Si­dorsky will be re­spon­si­ble for in­dus­try and agri­cul­ture, An­drei Slep­nev for trade. Is­sues of tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tion are as­signed to Valery Kore­shkov, cus­toms co­op­er­a­tion – Vladimir Goshin, en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture – Daniyal Akhme­tov, com­pe­ti­tion and an­ti­monopoly reg­u­la­tion – Nurlan Ald­abergenov.

All the mem­bers of the Board are highly qual­i­fied which re­flects the at­ti­tude of the SES mem­ber states to­wards it as well as the scope of the tasks it will be per­form­ing.

Yet this is by far not the whole list of the EEC staff. It was de­cided to set up 23 de­part­ments re­port­ing to the Board with a to­tal of 600 staff. The struc­ture of the de­part­ments has al­ready been ap­proved and qual­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments for the fu­ture per­son­nel have been de­ter­mined. There­fore, there is a lot of work to be done. The de­part­ments have to be fully staffed by 1 July 2012, and then the tran­si­tion from the Cus­toms Union Com­mis­sion to the EEC will be com­plete.

Ac­cord­ing to the decision of the pres­i­dents, na­tion­als of the three coun­tries must be rep­re­sented in ev­ery staffing cat­e­gory. The Be­laru­sians will ac­count for 6% of the to­tal num­ber of em­ploy­ees of the EEC de­part­ments, na­tion­als of Kaza­khstan will ac­count for 10% and the rest 84% will be Rus­sians.

Be­larus has launched a se­lec­tion process of prospec­tive can­di­dates for the po­si­tions of the EEC in­ter­na­tional public ser­vants. Qual­i­fied in­di­vid­u­als meet­ing the re­quire­ments of this in­ter­na­tional body are in­vited to take part in the se­lec­tion process.

On the whole in the near fu­ture the Board will have to work hard. The na­tional gov­ern­ments will del­e­gate a num­ber of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to this body. By 2017 the Board will take up more than a hun­dred of na­tional du­ties. It will con­vene ev­ery week.

A two-level struc­ture of the Com­mis­sion will en­sure evo­lu­tion­ary de­vel­op­ment of this agency. On the one hand, the Coun­cil will pre­serve the cur­rent for­mat with three vice-pre­miers; on the other hand, it will have a new full-time pro­fes­sional board. This is an im­por­tant step to­wards for­ma­tion of a pro­fes­sional man­age­ment body of the Eurasian in­te­gra­tion al­liance.

An im­por­tant fea­ture of the Eurasian Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion is its sta­tus as the na­tional reg­u­la­tory body. All the de­ci­sions will be taken by the Board and will be bind­ing for all the three coun­tries.

All the de­bates will be con­ducted at the level of the Board. If its mem­bers fail to find a con­sen­sus, the is­sue will be sub­mit­ted for con­sid­er­a­tion of the vice-pre­miers. If they fail to agree, the heads of state will have to de­cide, spec­i­fied Sergei Si­dorsky, board mem­ber (min­is­ter) re­spon­si­ble for in­dus­try and agri­cul­ture.

There­fore, an op­por­tu­nity to take sen­si­tive is­sues to a higher level up to the Supreme Eurasian Eco­nomic Coun­cil of the heads of state is pro­vided.

WTO is Next

Apart from form­ing the uni­fied mar­ket which self-ef­fi­ciency makes it re­sis­tant to the out­side eco­nomic fluc­tu­a­tions, each coun­try will con­tinue de­vel­op­ing trade-eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with other coun­tries and supra­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

In par­tic­u­lar, af­ter Rus­sia’s ac­ces­sion to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WTO) it is im­por­tant that the three states take con­certed de­ci­sions to pro­tect their mu­tual in­ter­ests in this in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent of Be­larus Alexan­der Lukashenko, ac­ces­sion of all the Cus­toms Union mem­bers to the WTO will strengthen the Eurasian union and im­prove its in­ter­na­tional stand­ing. There­fore, both Be­larus and Kaza­khstan count on Rus­sia’s sup­port in this process. The Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion will do its best to fa­cil­i­tate ac­ces­sion of its part­ners to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion. This in­tent is re­flected in var­i­ous mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing re­lated to the WTO ac­ces­sion signed by each SES mem­ber state.

Thus, in the mem­o­ran­dum signed on 19 De­cem­ber 2011 by Alexan­der Lukashenko and Dmitry Medvedev the sides agreed that Rus­sia will help dis­man­tle po­lit­i­cal ob­sta­cles to launch­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tion process be­tween Be­larus and the WTO.

In ad­di­tion to that, Rus­sia will of­fer Be­larus con­sul­ta­tion and ex­pert sup­port in prepa­ra­tion of doc­u­ments through­out the WTO en­try ne­go­ti­a­tion process and will con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance if nec­es­sary.

It was agreed that af­ter the of­fi­cial ac­ces­sion to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion Rus­sia will not make any new de­mands in the con­text of bi­lat­eral or mul­ti­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions of Be­larus’ ac­ces­sion to the WTO. The par­ties will agree on their po­si­tion and set­tle any dis­putes be­fore­hand based on the mech­a­nisms and in­ter­ests of the in­te­gra­tion for­ma­tions they are part of.

Be­larus and Rus­sia also con­firmed the pref­er­en­tial na­ture of their trade-eco­nomic re­la­tions by not­ing the pri­or­ity of en­sur­ing fa­vor­able en­vi­ron­ment of co­op­er­a­tion within joint in­te­gra­tion for­ma­tions. The coun­tries also em­pha­sized their com­mit­ment to boost­ing their pres­ence in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket by speed­ing up ac­ces­sion of all the Cus­toms Union mem­ber states to the WTO.

“The par­ties be­lieve it in­ad­mis­si­ble to al­low de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of mu­tual trade con­di­tions due to the WTO ac­ces­sion. In this re­spect af­ter the WTO ac­ces­sion their trade and eco­nomic re­la­tions will con­tinue to be gov­erned by the bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral in­ter­na­tional treaties and doc­u­ments en­sur­ing pref­er­en­tial na­ture of the mu­tual trade in goods and ser­vices, in­clud­ing within the Union State, Cus­toms Union, Sin­gle Eco­nomic Space and Com­mon­wealth of In­de­pen­dent States,” the mem­o­ran­dum says.

It also stip­u­lates that the par­ties will in­ter­act with WTO mem­ber states in or­der to en­sure that the tar­iff obli­ga­tions of Be­larus to­wards the WTO are com­mea­sur- able with the har­mo­nized Rus­sianKaza­khstani obli­ga­tions.

Thus, Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and Rus­sia have con­firmed their com­mit­ment to ad­vance con­certed ac­ces­sion of all the SES mem­ber states to the WTO.

Open to Ev­ery­one

The three coun­tries are ready to de­velop the clos­est co­op­er­a­tion with their EURASEC part­ners as well as other coun­tries of the post Soviet area. Other coun­tries are also likely to ac­cede to the Eurasian union. It looks like this am­bi­tious project will come true.

Kyr­gyz of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly voiced their in­ten­tion to join the Cus­toms Union and the Sin­gle Eco­nomic Space. “We be­lieve that our coun­try can def­i­nitely be­come a mem­ber of the Cus­toms Union,” said Omurbek Ba­banov, Prime Min­is­ter of Kyr­gyzs­tan.

Ukraine also started talk­ing about the op­por­tu­nity of join­ing the Cus­toms Union of Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and Rus­sia. “We want to study this is­sue to­day and we could grad­u­ally move for­ward ac­cord­ing to the 3+1 for­mula. For in­stance, out of 120 agree­ments we could first sign those ben­e­fi­cial for the CU mem­ber states and Ukraine. Then we could con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing step by step,” Ukraine’s Prime Min­is­ter Niko­lai Azarov said.

Moldova’s public sup­port of the idea of join­ing the Cus­toms Union has been grow­ing, too. Ac­cord­ing to the Vox Populi 2012 poll con­ducted by the As­so­ci­a­tion of So­ci­ol­o­gists and De­mog­ra­phers of Moldova, about 40% of re­spon­dents are in fa­vor of Moldova’s ac­ces­sion to the Cus­toms Union of Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and Rus­sia.

The union of the three coun­tries is at­trac­tive for other states and this proves its ef­fec­tive­ness.

The Sin­gle Eco­nomic Space opens a new chap­ter in co­op­er­a­tion among Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and Rus­sia. This stage of in­te­gra­tion shows a high level of trust of these three states to­wards each other.

For Be­larus, close and pro­duc­tive in­te­gra­tion with neigh­bors has al­ways been a nat­u­ral path of de­vel­op­ment.

On 19 De­cem­ber 2011 Pres­i­dents

of Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and

Rus­sia Alexan­der Lukashenko,

Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev and Dmitry Medvedev

launched the Eurasian Eco­nomic

Com­mis­sion and the Sin­gle Eco­nomic

Space

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