On 18 May 2018, the China Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced the signing of the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between China and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The agreement was signed at the Astana Economic Forum held in Astana, Kazakhstan, by the China International Trade Representative and Vice Minister of Commerce Fu Ziying, the Executive Chairman of EAEU and EAEU delegate members.
Established in 2014, the EAEU is a political and economic union of states primarily located the in northern Eurasia. Its members include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. Under a number of treaties, the EAEU constitutes a single market trading bloc between the members, allowing free movement of goods, capital, services and people.
The agreement paves the way for trade and economic opportunities between China and EAEU members. Comprising 13 chapters, it focuses on customs cooperation and trade facilitation, Intellectual Property Rights, departmental cooperation and government procurement, as well as e-commerce and competition. Moreover, further reductions to non-tariff trade barrier, improved trade facilitation and sound environment to stimulate industrial development are reported as the aims of the agreement.
The agreement plays an important role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as the state members are major BRI cooperation partners. The agreement provides a framework to draft policies improving the economic environment for Chinese and EAEU companies engaging in BRI. It serves to facilitate trade and investment between China and the member states. This includes the optimisation and eases business operations such as the joint establishment of industrial parks, agricultural projects, infrastructure facilities and cross-border economic cooperation zones.
MOFCOM reports that agreement holds vast cooperation potential and is a milestone promoting both the BRI and EAEU. The agreement will come into effect at the beginning of 2019.
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