The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, of which India is a member, organized a Eurasian Economic Forum in Xi’an city of China on 10 September, pushing for greater cooperation in the spheres of communication, technology, and development.
About the Eastern Economic Forum:
- India did not register its presence at the Eurasian Economic Forum, with many speculating the main reason to be India’s adversarial position to the Belt and Road Initiative and the entire event being focused on BRI.
About Eurasian economic union:
- The Eastern Economic Forum was established by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2015.
- The Eastern Economic Forum takes place each year in Vladivostok.
- It serves as a platform for the discussion of key issues in the world economy, regional integration, and the development of new industrial and technological sectors, as well as of the global challenges facing Russia and other nations.
- Events at the Forum traditionally take place in the form of panel sessions, roundtables, televised debates, business breakfasts, and business dialogues devoted to Russia’s relationships with various countries.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
- The block includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. It was formally established on January 1, 2015.
- The Eurasian economic union is the final outcome of a process which began as a customs union in 2010 between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
- It transformed itself into a single economic space in 2012 to integrate trade, energy, industry, and transport in the region.
- The EAEU introduces the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people and provides for common policies in the macroeconomic sphere, transport, industry and agriculture, energy, foreign trade and investment, customs, technical regulation, competition, and antitrust regulation. Provisions for a single currency and greater integration are envisioned in the future.
- The creation of EEU is being seen as the countermeasure against Americans and Europeans attempt to isolate Russia.
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), or Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai, China by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan;
- The original five nations, with the exclusion of Uzbekistan, were previously members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on 26 April 1996.
- Currently, the SCO comprises 8 member states, namely India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.[India and Pakistan were inducted into SCO in 2017.]
- It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organization.
- Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.
Future of India and Eurasian Economic Union
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- India is set to formalize a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, so as to deepen trade relations with the five former Soviet republics.
- The FTA is expected to open up a huge market with a trade potential of $37 to 62 billion.
- Trade between India and the five Eurasian countries currently stands at about $11 billion.
- India has a targeted trade of $30 billion with the five countries by 2025 and $15 billion annual investment,” Mr. Kumar said.
- There is a need for better understanding of the challenges in the new market like non-tariff barriers and quality standards before the agreement is signed.
- The Eurasian market could open up new export opportunities for Kerala in medical tourism, IT and IT-enabled services, besides traditional sectors like spices, marine products, coir, and rubber. He stressed the need for safeguards in the pact to protect the state’s interests.
- But India must be cautious to take steps to prevent dumping of goods and misuse of the rules of origin.
- There is also a need for clarity on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, import licensing, quantitative restrictions and trade remedies.