Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said China and Russia have reached broad consensus on Eurasian economic integration.
China has agreed to launch talks with the Eurasian Economic Union on an economic and trade cooperation deal, as well as on the “docking” of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative.
On May 8, when Gao met the economic union’s Trade Minister Andrey Slepnev in Moscow, he vowed to enhance business ties between China and the bloc.
Zhou Shijian, standing councilor at China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, said the consensus is a strategic decision with a long-term perspective.
China and the Eurasian union want to introduce new measures to put their economic growth on a firmer footing amid increasing international problems.
“This is bound to open up more trade and investment channels between China and the union,” Zhou said. “Negotiating an economic and trade cooperation deal is also in the interests of the Eurasian union’s members, as China is a major trading partner with these nations.”
China’s agreement to launch talks with the Eurasian Economic Union will help multilateral trade, according to experts.
They also said the move will advance economic cooperation in various fields on building a solid foundation for setting up a large free trade zone.
The Eurasian Economic Union was founded by the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in May last year. The treaty took effect on Jan 1.
Even though China is ready to introduce institutional arrangements to facilitate trade with the union and to eventually set up a free-trade zone with it, Zhou said the country must take its time in pushing forward the negotiation process.
This is because the area to be covered by the free trade zone will include four nations or possibly more in the future. Legal issues, including investment laws and tariff regulations, must be treated as priorities to ensure all procedures advance smoothly.
Both Washington and Brussels have imposed harsher trade measures on Russian goods since the end of 2013.
He Jingtong, a professor of international trade at Nankai University in Tianjin, said, “Under such circumstances, Russia certainly needs China’s support to promote regional integration within the Eurasian union framework.
“The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council also expects to integrate with Asia-Pacific economic circles as soon as possible by working together with China.”
He said the deal will optimize the trade structure and cultivate new growth points for economic advances and employment between China and the union’s members.
It will also help to set up mechanisms to facilitate trade and to draw up policies in areas of common interest, such as jointly establishing industrial parks and cross-border economic cooperation zones, he said.