St.Petersburg International Economic Forum
June 1st to 3rd, 2017 the annual Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2017) took place. The content of the sections and the geographical structure of the foreign business representatives, mainly French and Hindu, showed that the concept of a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok, as well as the project of the Big Eurasian Partnership (BEP), were the main focus points of the forum, along with the digitalization agenda of the EAEU economy. The post-graduate student of the National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, director of the Center for Eurasian Studies (CES) Jurij Kofner participated in the work of the "Russian Davos".
Sergei Karaganov, dean of the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics at the Higher School of Economics spoke at a number of high-profile panel sessions of the forum.
The project, which not so long ago was declared dead by the Russian expert community, is far from it. At least this can be judged from the big attention, that European business at the SPIEF paid to the concept of the "EU - EAEU common economic space". Dedicated to this topic were the sections "Europe at the Crossroads: Risks and Prospects" (June 2nd); "European and Eurasian integration" (June 1st), as well as the international "Conference on the development of cooperation in the area from Lisbon to Vladivostok" (31 May) which took place at "day zero" of the forum with the participation of leading corporations (e.g. SCHNEIDER GROUP) and business associations from Germany, France and Italy.
The essence of all discussions on this matter can be resumed as follows: 1. European business is extremely interested in the creation of a common space between the EU and the EAEU. 2. The problem lies in the political unwillingness of Brussels under US influence to recognize the Eurasian Union as a subject of international law, which is very upsetting to European entrepreneurs. However intellectual preparations of a potential "mega deal" are already spearheaded by research done at IIASA (Laxenburg, Austria). 3. Negotiations should be conducted not between the EU and Russia, but between Brussels and the Eurasian Economic Commission. 4. In the geo-economic sense, this common economic space is necessary for both parties primarily as a union of European capital and technology with Eurasian resources and human capital. Only such an alliance can be competitive in the 21st century. 5. In spite of the possible compromises, the interests of modernization, industrialization and integration of the economies of the EAEU Member-States should be a priorit for the EEC. 6. The Lisbon to Vladivostok concept should be seen not as an alternative, but rather as part of the Big Eurasian Partnership idea.
“When we finally get our dialogue restored, say, in some five years, the landscape will be entirely different. Russia's Asian (not only Chinese) trade share will stand at 40%, while Europe will account for 40–42% – this will be the new reality,” said Sergey Karaganov, Dean, School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics, at the “European and Eurasian integration" high-level panel session (June 1st).
Therefore it is necessary to think about the larger Eurasian region not only in the horizontal aspect but also in a north-south dimension: from St. Petersburg to Singapore. A free trade area (FTA) between the EAEU and Vietnam has been operating since October 2015. June 3rd, 2017 on the sidelines SPIEF the start of negotiations to conclude an FTA agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Republic of India was officially announced. The analysis showed that the reciprocal liberalization of the trade regime will lead to GDP growth of all countries of the EAEU and India already the short term. In addition, according to experts, trade turnover may rise by 30 to 40% of the current level depending on the tariff liberalization depth that is reached after the negotiations. This was at the center of attention at two sections: "EAEU - India: towards a strategic partnership" (June 1st) and "SCO and the prospects for the formation of the Big Eurasian Partnership " (1 June). The main issues of the second discussion were the enlargement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the definition of its main objectives and tasks in the 21st century. That the southern dimension of the EEC's international cooperation is not limited within the Eurasian continent was seen at the section "EAEU - Latin America: stepping up cooperation" (June 2nd).
The Eurasian Economic Union is a young integration organization. The Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum showed that it, nevertheless, is already becoming an important pole of the world economy and more and more actively determines the agenda of the global economic architecture.