ASTANA (TCA) — During a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on May 31 in the Kazakh capital, Astana, leaders of the EEU member countries agreed to start negotiations on a trade deal with China.
Speaking after the Council’s meeting, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the negotiation process will be “challenging,” RFE/RL reported.
The Russia-led EEU was officially inaugurated two years ago after the leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus signed a founding treaty. Armenia and Kyrgyzstan later joined the grouping.
Shuvalov said a free-trade deal signed with Vietnam last year was expected to come into force this year after the ratification process is finalized.
Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the EEU was also interested in cooperation with India, Israel, Egypt, and Cambodia.
But Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko urged his partners to resolve the internal issues of the bloc, such as hundreds of exclusions to its free-trade rules.
Trade turnover within the EEU dropped to $45 billion in 2015 from $65 billion a year in 2012-2013, according to Lukashenko.
During the Council’s meeting, the presidents of the EEU member countries approved the basic guidelines of macroeconomic policies of the EEU member states for 2016 and 2017, said Tigran Sargsyan, chairman of the EEU’s Eurasian Economic Commission, the official website of the Kazakh Prime Minister reported.
In Sargsyan’s words, the document has an anti-crisis character and identifies the most important short- and medium-term challenges facing the economies of the EEU countries.