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Eurasian Economic Commission to discuss integration plan to 2025

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Eurasian Economic Commission to discuss integration plan to 2025

Putin video conference e1587096998193
Photo: AFP

An extraordinary session of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council will be held via video conference today to discuss a draft Eurasian integration strategy through 2025.

Road, freight and transport issues have previously been a source of contention between Union states, particularly Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. In 2019, Bishkek decried a decision by Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan’s capital, renamed in March 2019) to reintroduce anti-smuggling transport inspections, which have contributed to an overall slowdown of trade between the two countries.

Resolving transportation issues and resuming cross-border cargo traffic is a key issue for the Kyrgyz government, which can only access Russian markets via Kazakhstan. Since bilateral negotiations have failed in the past, the new Eurasian integration strategy may work to standardise regional cargo requirements to speed up inspections and reduce tensions. However, should concerns of contraband smuggled through Kyrgyzstan into the Eurasian Economic Union space persist, this problem will undoubtedly resurface.

Given the ongoing pandemic, trade between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan is low. However, Kyrgyzstan’s economy is largely dependent on foreign imports and Kazakhstan is its second largest trading partner. With Kyrgyzstan’s economy stagnating, Kazakhstan has the upper hand in compelling its southern neighbour to crack down on illegal goods smuggling, lest border inspections be intensified.

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