China and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will start negotiations on an economic partnership agreement (EPA) as soon as possible, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said in Russia this weekend.
“During the EPA talks, the two sides will align their rules, mechanisms and cooperation areas,” said the minister, adding that they will give full play to the roles of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a link and a platform.
The EAEU is a Russia-led trade bloc established in 2015. It currently has four members: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
The EAEU already has an integrated single market of more than 171 million people. Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have also expressed interest in joining. That would bring it to a total of 217 million.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow and Beijing are working on plans for docking China’s ambitious Silk Road project and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.
“We are intensively working on combining these two projects – the economic zone of the Silk Road and cooperation as part of the Eurasian Economic Union, and Russia’s plans to expand its transport network in the east of the country. We are absolutely confident that the implementation of this joint work fully meets our mutual interests,” Putin said earlier this year.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow last month, the two leaders signed a decree on cooperation in tying the development of the Eurasian Economic Union with the “Silk Road” economic project.
“The integration of the Eurasian Economic Union and Silk Road projects means reaching a new level of partnership and actually implies a common economic space on the continent,” Putin said.
China has already announced an initial $40 billion Silk Road Fund in November last year.
Meanwhile, the BRICS countries have, in the Ufa declaration signed after the 2015 Summit this week, pledged to support multilateral trade systems and reject trade protectionism, and comprehensively launched e-commerce cooperation among them.
President Putin, at a press conference on Friday said China’s stock market woes was discussed in Ufa.
“Regarding China and its stock markets, we discussed this issue with the Chinese President. Chinese authorities are not overly concerned, and I agree with the Chinese point of view that “bulls” have been acting too confidently – even overconfidently – and now we are seeing a downward correction. The recent data show that there has been a minor rise, so there is nothing unusual about this situation. I think that China will remain a global economic driver,” he added.
TBP and Agencies