XV International Economic Forum of the CIS Participant States

On March 17, 2023, alongside the regular meeting of the Economic Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the 15th International Economic Forum of the CIS member states was held in Moscow under the motto «Integration Dialogue: CIS, EAEU, SCO, BRICS». The purpose of this Forum is to develop and adopt joint decisions, identify interests, establish long-term partnerships, receive feedback and plan further steps toward the economic development of the Commonwealth.

The Forum was attended by the CIS Secretary General S. Lebedev, SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming, Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission Board M. Myasnikovich, CIS Deputy Prime Ministers (members of the CIS Economic Council), senior officials from ministries of economic development, finance, industry and trade, representatives of governing bodies, Chambers of Commerce, industry associations and banking communities, businessmen of CIS member states.

The results of the Forum reflect the expert opinion of business and integration associations on the challenges ahead. Along with the business program and the work of thematic sections and round tables on finance, industry, healthcare, transport and logistics, green economy and other areas, an exhibition of projects by Forum participants was held at the World Trade Center (WTC). The culmination of the event was the plenary session dedicated to the integration interaction of the four associations. The participants talked about why the CIS is a «laboratory of integration processes», why the SCO attracts countries from all over the world, how the Eurasian associations should jointly respond to the West, which neglects international law, and what will push the EAEU to increased development.

In his welcoming address to the participants of the Forum, CIS Secretary General Sergey Lebedev stated that globalization of the world economy, despite everyone’s past conviction in its existence, is no longer valid today. Nowadays globalization is being replaced by large regional trade associations. World markets are not disappearing, but the competition has become tougher. Price ceilings are being introduced and fundamental principles of international trade and WTO norms are being violated. The answer to the question with whom to cooperate under such conditions is the experience of the CIS member states, which have been developing cooperation taking into account each other's positions and making compromises for more than 30 years. The Commonwealth is in its own way the «laboratory of integration processes» in the Eurasian space. From the CIS grew the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the Customs Union, and then the common economic space of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia in the EAEU format. It is no coincidence that the four CIS member states - Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan - together with China became the founders of the SCO in the late 1990s.

Adylbek Kasymaliev, Chairman of the CIS Economic Council, First Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic, noted in his address to the participants of the plenary session of the Forum that the EAEU is of significant interest to many large economies of the world today, among which he singled out the UAE, Egypt, India and Indonesia. «We wholeheartedly welcome cooperation within the EAEU and the expansion of international partnership. I am convinced that the conclusion of agreements on free trade zones (with the above-mentioned countries) will give a strong impetus to the increase of trade and our export potential in the context of the «big Eurasian space», said Adylbek Kasymaliyev.

SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming pointed out that in an unstable and changing world, it is the SCO that creates stability. «The SCO members call for equal conditions for all countries, respect for international law, relations based on mutual respect and open cooperation», he said. The Secretary General evaluated the cooperation between the SCO and the EAEU as «very good», noting that the potential in their relations in all sectors will continue to «effectively manifest» on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.

Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Igor Petrishenko called on the CIS, SCO, EAEC and BRICS to jointly respond to a new round of hybrid military and political confrontation in the world, protectionism and deglobalization. According to him, the successes achieved by a number of countries over the past decades and their sovereign desire to determine their own path have become a serious irritant to those who have appropriated the role of the world hegemon. «Increased technological competition between countries, reduced investment flows and increased protectionism in international trade contribute to the instability and uncertainty in a global economy that has not yet recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic», said Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus. He is convinced that strengthening of mutual relations of the SCO, BRICS, CIS, EAEU and the Union State of Russia and Belarus will contribute to the successful overcoming of the existing challenges and more intensive development of the member countries of these associations. Currently there is a good basis for such integration.

During his speech, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Mikhail Myasnikovich called to increase investment cooperation in the EEU and form «powerful Eurasian companies». Therefore, it is necessary to double the existing volume of the fixed capital investments, which is 17-18% of the GDP. According to M. Myasnikovich, mutual investments make the largest integrational contribution to the GDP of the EAEU countries. The state could act as an active investor along with private business. The key area of the Union's sustainable development is the cardinal acceleration of industrial production processes and the formation of industrial clusters of the EAEU. Chairman of the EEC Board said that the positive effects of the Eurasian economic integration were the increase of the volume of mutual trade of the EAEU member-countries by 1.8 times from 2015 to 2022 and increase of the trade cooperation with third countries by 1.7 times. Mikhail Myasnikovich called the task to ensure food security of the EEU countries a promising area of work. «The Eurasian five» have reached a high level of provision of the domestic market with their own production, which amounts to 94%. At the same time, the balance of production and consumption of agricultural and food products shows the need not only to increase the volume of production, but also to manage it rationally», concluded the Chairman of the EEC Board.

FBA EAC was represented at the Forum by A.Murychev, Chairman of the FBA EAC Executive Board and J. Clausen, Head of the FBA EAC Representative Office in France.