TBILISI – Members of the Eurasian Economic Union, led by Russia, signed on Tuesday a free trade deal with Singapore and hinted a deal with India was on the cards.
The EAEU is an economic block of central and northern Asian countries and Eastern European states that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It was launched on 1 January 2015.
During a summit of EAEU leaders in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, the Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that Singapore “is the second country after Vietnam” with which the block has signed an agreement of this kind.
The deal was signed in the presence of leaders of the EAEU member states and the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Tokayev stressed that, amid difficult economic conditions on a global level, it was “key that we maintain continued growth in our EAEU countries” and that there was real cooperation and integration that benefits all parties.
The Kazakh president regretted that in the first half of the year the bloc’s trade with third countries had fallen by 2% and that the exchange of goods within the block itself had dropped by more than 5%, up to $28 billion, he was quoted as saying by Russian agency TASS.
The president of Russia Vladimir Putin said that the Union will soon begin talks on the creation of a free trade area with India.
He added that EAEU leaders were keen to create a temporary agreement that would prop up a free trade area with Iran expected to enter into force by the end of October.
In addition to the leaders of the EAEU and Singapore, Moldavia was present as an observer state and Iran participated in the summit as a guest of honor.
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani called on the businessmen of the economic bloc to invest in the Islamic Republic and to take advantage of their geographical situation for the transit of goods from “Europe to Asia, from the west to the east and from the north to the south.”
Moldovan President Igor Dodon urged EAEU leaders to consider a free trade agreement with the European Union because it would be “a breakthrough in the idea of creating a single Europe that goes from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”