Big Eurasia: from the political idea to the technology of assembly

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Big Eurasia: from the political idea to the technology of assembly 21.02.2018 12:01

Within the framework of the Russian Business Week - 2018, on February 7, the "Big Eurasia: From the Political Idea to the Assembly Technology" event was held in the "Moscow" hall of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, organized by the Valdai International Discussion Club. It was attended by leading Russian experts, business and science representatives, and the moderator was the director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies of the Higher School of Economics, T. Bordachev.

Among the speakers were A. Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE); T. Valova, member of the Board (Minister) for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Commission (ECE); General and Executive Director of the Vienna International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) P. Kabat; chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank Ya. Lisovolik; A. Bystritsky, Chairman of the Board of the Development and Support Fund of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

The idea of creating the "Great Eurasia" was proclaimed by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin in June 2016 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Since that moment, a year and a half has already passed, therefore it is considered necessary in the expert community to discuss how to materialize this idea in practice.

Considering the decisive role of Moscow as the leader of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Beijing as the creator of the "One Belt - One Way" initiative, they alone can give a powerful impetus to the realization of the "Big Eurasia" idea. So, according to the moderator of the event, T. Bordachev, China positively assesses Russia's foreign policy initiative, which in the future will be able to find practical outlines. However, in Beijing, it is believed that "Greater Eurasia" cannot be built around one integration project or initiative, which implies a multiplicity of institutions and formats of interaction and cooperation.

In turn, A. Bystritsky believes that there has not yet been established a channel in the field of communication that would fairly unite Russia, China and the countries of Central Asia. The Russian experts emphasize that at this stage there are no practical mechanisms for translating the idea under consideration, which could become a link between the states in order to strengthen the integration interaction.

In his speech, the president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, A. Shohin, stressed that the Russian economy has not yet turned to the Asia-Pacific region (APR). Thus, the European Union (EU) is Russia's main trade and investment partner, even in the context of Western sanctions policy. The expert noted that the APR (together with the US) accounts for 30% of Russia's foreign trade turnover, where China holds about 15%, the Republic of Korea 4%, and Japan 3%. Despite taking into account the economic recovery in 2017 with these states.

In comparison with the APR, the share of Russia's foreign trade turnover with the EU countries is 42.6%. On the basis of this, the speaker concluded that "there is still no clear balance between Europe and Asia, as well as the" turn to the east "of Russia. Asia is not yet catching up with the "old Europe" in terms of the amount of direct investment attracted to the Russian economy.

In this situation, Russia and the EAEC need to focus on solving domestic economic problems. For example, make the rules of the game within the EEA more transparent and understandable and develop a more favorable business environment. Further, it is necessary to guarantee to Western business the invariability of the conditions for investment contracts for the entire term of their operation, regardless of changes in legislation or the imposition of any international sanctions or trade restrictions on the part of the host party.

Thus, the expert believes, the principle of "grandfather reservation" should be observed. For the further successful integration of the supra-regional level, it is necessary to fulfill an important condition: to concentrate on finalizing business mechanisms and communication channels within regional economic associations.

In his speech the member of the Board (Minister) for integration and macroeconomics of the ECE T. Valovaya drew attention to the fact that now there are really conceptual discussions about the prospects of assembling "Big Eurasia". The expert believes that there is no need to make a choice between Europe and Asia. Instead, it is necessary to gather in a single track both Europe and Asia. In this connection, the proposed "assembly point" should be the EAEC, which has historical chances of implementing this idea.

Otherwise, if Russia - as the EAEC driver - misses the initiative to unite the economic union, for example, with the BRICS + format or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), then in ten years the idea of "Big Eurasia" will be forgotten. The expert believes that in its place will be the idea of creating "Big Asia" and "assembly point", that is, the place where decisions are made, will be China.

The chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank, J. Lisovolik, suggested that the trend of the world economy is regionalism, taking into account the actions of such unions and organizations as the EEA, SCO, BRICS +. The expert believes that the dynamically developing markets of these countries could prepare a new platform for global cooperation. The uniqueness of the international BRICS organization is that the economy of each state included in this structure is simultaneously leading in its region: Brazil in MERCOSUR, Russia in the EAEU, India in SAARC, China in the SCO, and South Africa in SADC.

According to Ya. Lisolovik, it is necessary to create enlarged syndicates from already existing economic blocks. Separately, BRICS or separately the SCO, no matter how large these organizations are, is no longer able, according to the expert, to give impetus to further economic development.

A measure of further successful development could be the establishment of regional interaction between institutions with the help of existing Development Banks, such as the BRICS Development Bank, the Eurasian Development Bank and, in the future, the formation of the SCO Development Bank. In the foreseeable future, they should expand bilateral cooperation to multilateral cooperation. This will, in the opinion of the economist, form a multilateral economic platform.

In conclusion, the expert stressed that Eurasia as a platform of many interstate organizations and economic unions and initiatives requires greater cooperation between interested political and economic actors than other continents. In particular, to implement the idea of "Greater Eurasia" it is necessary to increase the transport and logistics level of the participating countries.

From the foregoing it follows that the implementation of the foreign policy initiative "Big Eurasia" of the Russian political leader V. Putin depends on the solution of a number of problems. First, economic point of view, for Russia there is no qualitative advantage between Europe and Asia. Secondly, between the countries of regional unions and associations, such as the EEMP, the SCO and the BRICS, there is no full-fledged communication content that would ensure the consolidation of their interests in the space of the "Great Eurasia". Therefore, between the EAEU, the SCO and the BRICS, it is necessary to develop transport and logistics infrastructure in the meridional North-South and latitudinal East-West directions.

To some extent, this is being realized in the international transport corridor "North-South" and the Chinese initiative "One belt - one way". As transport and logistics develop, a qualitative increase in communication channels will occur, with the appropriate support of interested state and business structures of the states of "Big Eurasia".


Kharitonova Darya Viktorovna - Researcher of the Department of Eurasian Integration and Development of the SCO of the Institute of CIS Countries