Russia approves draft law on EEU-IRAN free trade deal
The Russian government said on Saturday that it had approved a draft law for ratification of the provisional free trade deal between the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Iran, which is now the subject to parliamentary approval.
The five-nation economic bloc of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia struck the provisional free trade deal with Iran on the sidelines of the Astana Economic Forum on May 17, Sputnik reported.
The provisional agreement is expected to last for three years, with the signatories committing themselves to enter into talks on a full-fledged free trade deal within a year since the accord’s entry into force.
“Approve the draft federal law ... and table it in the State Duma in accordance with the established procedure,” the government said in a statement, posted on its official website.
The provisional agreement will cover a limited set of goods to ensure swift adaptation of exporters to a new level of relations.
The agreement is aimed at reducing tariffs and also removing non-tariff barriers to increase predictability and boost mutual trade.
In May, Iranian Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Shariatmadari said Iran has become a partner of a great economic union. The agreement will bear positive fruit for the whole region.
Shariatmadari said that his country, which exports goods worth $20 billion per year, is a good partner for the EEU and “is interested in the simplification of export procedures, the elimination of trade barriers and the establishment of stable economic and trade relationships”.
The chairman of the board of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Tigran Sargsyan, hailed the agreement signed by Iran and the EEU, which he portrayed as “the first step toward establishing a new type of economic relationship” between the parties.
“The Iranian market is very large and dynamic and that is why it is so appealing to our business leaders,” he said.
“Of course we are worried, but we have our own economic interests and we will attempt to implement all of the terms of the agreement,” Sargsyan said.
According to Rakhim Oshakbayev, the director of the Talap Center and a Kazakh political scientist who specializes in studying the EEU, the agreement between Iran and the EEU is a consequence of the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran deal.
“I think this is positive and it would mean that the foreign policy of the United States is not completely effective,” he said.
The EEU bloc was established in 2015, after it superseded the Eurasian Economic Community that functioned from 2000 to 2014.
The union has an integrated single market of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of over $4 trillion.
Armenia also welcomed the free trade agreement between the EEU and Iran.
Armenia, the only EEU member state in the Caucasus, has been positioning itself as a trade partner to Iran via a free trade zone on its southern border.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said We hope that it will stimulate our commercial ties [with Iran,]” he expressed. “It opens up opportunities. We hope to utilize those opportunities in full.”
Armenian Minister for Economic Development Artsvik Minasian said the deal would allow Armenia to serve as an important transit route between Iran and the wider EEU market. “This is also an opportunity to manufacture some products in the Meghri free-trade zone,” he told Azatutyun, Armenian news service.
Meghri, Armenia’s border town with Iran, has become an important part of Armenia’s economic strategy after a trade hub has opened there in December, 2017. The hub offers generous business terms for companies operating there.
“Companies operating in the Meghri will be exempt from profit tax, value added tax, excise tax and customs fees,” the provincial governor’s press secretary, Vazgen Sagatelyan, told Eurasianet recently.
“We expect the zone to attract 50 to 70 companies in the coming years, investing $100-130 million and creating more than 1,500 jobs.”