The alignment of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is expected to be a hot topic at this year’s International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in the Russian city of St. Petersburg from June 6 to 8.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia, as well as the 5th anniversary of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the 25th anniversary of the Eurasian idea.
Leaders of both China and Russia pay great attention to the cooperation between the two countries in this respect.
In May 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a joint declaration on cooperation in linking the Silk Road Economic Belt and the EAEU, drawing a new blueprint for the development of bilateral relations.
In October 2016, China and the EAEU started one-year negotiations on trade and economic cooperation including five rounds of talks, three meetings of joint working groups and two ministerial consultations.
On May 17, 2018, China and the EAEU signed an agreement on trade and economic cooperation, covering customs cooperation, trade facilitation, and intellectual property rights along with new topics like e-commerce. This is the first major systematic arrangement ever reached between the two sides.
This February, Putin said Russia will continue to strengthen the synergy of the EAEU with the BRI in his address to Russia’s Federal Assembly.
DATA TELLS PROMISING COOPERATION PROSPECT
China is a major trading partner of the EAEU. The trade volume between China and the EAEU increased by 23 percent in 2018, accounting for 16.76 percent of the total, according to Russian news agency sputniknews.
Statistics from the Eurasian Economic Commission showed that as of the end of 2017, China’s cumulative investment in the EAEU was approximately 14 billion U.S. dollars.
Trade between China and Russia, a major member of the EAEU reached 107.06 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, up 27.1 percent year on year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. In the first quarter of this year, trade between the two countries reached 23.9 billion U.S. dollars, up 9.8 percent compared to the same period last year.
The bilateral trade between the two countries will keep the momentum in 2019. Meanwhile, mutual investment maintains steady growth with huge potential.
BRI AND EAEU HAND IN HAND
The EAEU and the BRI bear similarities in many ways. For example, both ideas give priority to the economic and trade cooperation among Eurasian countries, and focus on improving infrastructure in the region.
The EAEU is seen as a major player in the world’s energy, raw material, arms, and agriculture production sectors. The China-initiated BRI, on the other hand, is set to bolster connectivity across the world. The China Rail Express, especially, serves as a bridge for growing cooperation between China and Europe. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) also brings the country’s infrastructure expertise into full play.
The BRI, proposed in 2013, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. The initiative includes the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
Established in 2015, the EAEU includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, aiming to optimize the flow of goods and services among its members.