Political Economy Journal: The Game of Eurasia

BY: Daniel Ranjbar

The Eurasian Economic Union is a regional treaty signed in 2014 by the leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

PEJOURNAL – The Eurasian Economic Union is a regional treaty signed in 2014 by the leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. A year later, in 2015, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan joined. The Eurasian Economic Union officially started its work on January 1, 2015. Eurasian countries now have an area of ​​20 million square kilometers and a population of more than 183 million, which is 5.2% of the world’s population. On the day of the agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced: “Today we have created a powerful and attractive economic growth center, a regional market that connects more than 180 million people.”[1]

This important regional pact is designed to counter the economic and political interference of the European Union and Western countries in the affairs of Central Asian countries. Facilitation of trade, creation of a common market in the field of independent member states, gradual elimination of customs laws within the union, establishment of common foreign tariffs among member states and harmonization of customs formalities are among the goals of this union.

I should mention that creation of The Eurasian Economic Union it is one of the important results of activity and creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) according to Vladimir Putin. In his Article that he published when he was Prime Minister that time ‘A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making’, we can see the beautiful road to create Eurasia and the plans for the future in the region. Article is for 2011 and today I can say most expectations and plans became true and in some cases, actually more than what was planned.

According to Article “There are different views on how efficient the CIS is, and disputes over its internal problems and failed hopes have the potential to run and run. But it is difficult to argue with the fact that the commonwealth remains an irreplaceable mechanism that helps bring our positions closer together and enables us to elaborate a common view on key issues facing our region, in addition to the tangible benefits it affords its members.” [2]

Idea of Eurasia come out from CIS, for make region more secure or protect it from west.

“Moreover, the CIS experience enabled us to launch a many-tiered, multi-speed integration process in the post-Soviet space, and to set up much needed institutions such as the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Customs Union and finally the Common Economic Space.”

Vladimir Putin, 2011[3]

The Eurasian Union is a semi-presidential system, with the Prime Minister answering to each Parliament and the President. This system used to be carried over from the Russian era. Upon the federalization of the Union, the Russian Federal Assembly alongside with the other member-nation’s parliaments was once dissolved into the revamped Eurasian Parliament, which now elected the Prime Minister of the state, as a substitute than the President of the economic union as the previous version of the parliament had.

The plans and activity of organization, negotiation and interesting movements, can show that today Eurasian Union is in a very determinative position in the global community; we can understand that from the influence of this organization in other countries and continents. On the other side, the countries that are working with Eurasian Union and or in the level of negotiation, each of them have specific and special positions in the world or for Russia.

As we can see, the countries that negotiated or in the process of negotiation about FTA with Eurasian Union each of them have a special position in the global community. Some of these countries are allies and friends of the West, especially the US but they can see their benefit if they work with Eurasian Union. In South East Asia, we can say some countries can be happier working with any other organization that China cannot control or be at the top. China has good bilateral relations with each member of Eurasia and is trying to be better. In addition, on the other side Morocco, Egypt from African Continent, that makes the tie of Eurasia longer and more beneficial.

But what made me to write this article is move of Eurasian Union to Middle East without making any negotiation or activity with any Arab Countries; in place of that, they choose the best option for partnership and working, the country that have same need to Eurasia as Eurasia need to it, Iran. Countries that are under so many sanctions and have almost the same goal as organizations have, stay in front of the West, survive and try to be better. 

In 2016, Iran proposed the creation of a free trade zone between Iran and this union to the Economic Commission of the Eurasian Union. The members of this union welcomed the proposal. After two years of numerous negotiations and quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the items and the amount of their preferential tariffs, this agreement was finally signed on May 17, 2016 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

“The Ministries of Agriculture of Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran concluded a tripartite memorandum of understanding on trade in wheat. The arrangement on signing the memorandum has become one of the results of negotiations under the Interim Agreement leading to the formation of a free trade area between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Iran. The signing ceremony that took place on February 12 in Moscow was attended by the Member of the Board – Minister in charge of trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Veronika Nikishina.”[4]

“In October 2019, President Hassan Rouhani headed a high-level delegation to Armenia to attend the Eurasian Union Summit. The President addressed the summit and described our country’s vast capabilities for trade with the Eurasian Union.”[5]

Iran’s accession to the Eurasian Union has special advantages. Iran could become a bridge to connect the market with more than 180 million people and a potential market to increase the country’s exports. In addition, only Russia, the largest country in the Eurasian Union, offers a market of 140 million people to Iranian businessmen.

It is noteworthy that the region’s gross domestic product is a total of $ 1.9 trillion, which is 3.2% of world GDP. “Iran is additionally domestic to the International North-South Transportation Corridor which links Mumbai to Moscow and is increasing diplomatic and alternate ties with both as it turns away from the United States and EU markets and politics.”[6]

The value of trade between Iran and the members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) reached $1.489 billion in the five-month period after the implementation of the preferential trade agreement on October 27, 2019.

“According to the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), Ruhollah Latifi, 67 percent of the mentioned figure has been the share of Iran’s imports and 33 percent was gained from exports. The official put the weight of the exports to the EAEU countries at 1.15 million tons with a value of $489.9 million, while the imports from the zone were 2.95 million tons at the value of $999.3 million.

He further noted that the preferential exports of Iran to the EAEU zone have been 123,960 tons with a value of nearly $136 million, while the preferential imports stood at 2.38 million tons with a value of nearly $750 million.”[7]This union has the potential to become a large and reliable market for Iran’s exports and can play an effective role in overcoming Iran’s economic bottlenecks. As Iran continues to face harsh economic sanctions from the United States and its allies, energy cooperation with countries in the Eurasian region is of particular importance to Iran.

Iran was just one of good examples to show the idea of Eurasian Union is not just about the Economy, there are some political ideas behind everything; these ideas become decisions and then a Game. Today Eurasian’s members move on and choose very carefully their partners and friends, because they want to survive not just in Economical way but also in Political World. The game of Eurasian Union can be very successful and powerful in the international community and in front of the eyes of west specially US, if it plays well.

[1] http://www.eaeunion.org/

[2] Article by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin “A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making” October 2011

[3] https://russiaeu.ru/

[4] http://www.eurasiancommission.org/

[5] http://greater-europe.org/

[6] https://www.russia-briefing.com/

[7] https://www.irna.ir/

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