The Eurasian Congress focuses on effective solutions for the development of EAEU+ economies

14 December 2021

Moscow, 13 December 2021. The search for effective solutions for the development of EAEU+ economies was the main theme of the Eurasian Congress held on 2 December at VDNH in Moscow.

Over 1,000 participants from thirty countries attended the forum hosted by the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) with support from the Russian Government. More than 10,000 viewers followed the event online and 116 journalists covered it in the media.

“It is only the second time that the Congress has been held, but we can already see that it is a popular platform for discussing the essential issues of expanding cooperation within the Eurasian Economic Union. Representatives of government bodies as well as the business, research and expert communities join the discussion. This open dialogue is an opportunity to present one’s vision of achieving sustainable development of the region we share, improve people’s welfare and do everything we can for this union to be the most comfortable place to live and do business,” said Mikhail Mishutin, Prime Minister of Russia, who opened the plenary session.

He suggested that the resources of the EDB and the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development (EFSD) be used more efficiently for major international initiatives.

“We need to build a solid Eurasian transport system – that is, create a consolidated network of railway, motorway, maritime, river and aviation infrastructure in Eurasia,” he added.

Mikhail Mishustin also emphasised that Russia, Kazakhstan and China had started working on the Europe–Western China international transport corridor, with the Kazan–Moscow motorway extension to the Baltic and Northern Europe already under construction.

“We are preparing to launch the construction of the Meridian motorway that will run from Russia’s border with Kazakhstan through eight Russian regions and continue to Belarus and Central Europe,” he said.

The same day, Nikolai Podguzov, Chairman of the EDB Management Board, and Alexander Ryazanov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Russian Holding Company, signed a memorandum for the Bank to provide a loan and arrange financing for the Meridian motorway.

In addition, the EDB considers financing for the Caspian Port and Logistics Company to plan, construct and operate a multifunctional port and logistics complex on the Caspian Sea, in Russia’s Astrakhan Region. The relevant memorandum was also signed during the Congress.

“The EDB has great potential to stimulate businesses, create joint projects and products with high added value in order to provide its economies with food and non-food products in the first place and to export them,” said Alikhan Smailov, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan.

Nine documents were signed on the sidelines of the EDB’s forum, including a memorandum with AVTOBAN Road Construction Company and AVTOBAN-DIGITAL on financing the implementation of digital technologies in road construction management, a mandate letter with Kazakhstan Housing Company on issuing social and green bonds on the Astana International Exchange, and an agreement with the Industrial Development Fund on cooperation in developing Kazakhstan’s healthcare system. Other documents signed at the Congress are a trilateral agreement with Samruk-Energy and AlES on arranging financing for the reconstruction of Almaty CHP-3, a partnership agreement with the Alabuga special economic zone to finance the construction of infrastructure for up to RUB 36 billion, and a memorandum with Zerde Holding on the joint implementation of digital technology projects of importance to Kazakhstan’s economy. The EDB and VEB.RF also made a RUB 1.282 billion loan facility agreement to develop renewable energy in Kazakhstan.

All these projects are in line with the EDB Strategy for 2022–2026, which takes effect on 1 January. The strategy focuses on mega-projects to be implemented by the Bank. Nikolai Podguzov, Chairman of the EDB Management Board, presented these to Mikhail Mishustin during a tour of the exhibition.

One such megaproject is the Eurasian transport system mentioned above, which includes the Europe–Western China and North–South corridors. “Linking these corridors will give up to 40% increase in traffic. And if we implement the North–South corridor, it will be an alternative to the Suez Canal, which means halving delivery times and a very high potential for building up container traffic,” Nikolai Podguzov noted during the presentation.

The second megaproject is the Eurasian Commodity Distribution System (ECDS).

“We welcome the EDB's work to create a common commodity distribution system. This is important given our vast territories and underdeveloped logistics, as well as the need to reduce transport costs. This is also important for developing exports and ensuring commodity security,” noted Alikhan Smailov.

At the relevant session, Amangeldy Issenov, Vice Chairman of the EDB Management Board, said that the digital platform would be the backbone of the future system. “The purpose of this platform is to integrate all available data from existing national information systems as well as those run by private businesses that are already operating in the member countries,” he noted. The platform is expected to be managed by a single operator. It will be a single user-friendly tool for all future participants such as product suppliers, transport companies, retailers, government agencies, etc. The EAEU+ countries will use common concepts, rules, and processes in this system. “It will be about global unification,” Amangeldy Issenov added.

The ECDS could stimulate a 30% increase in agribusiness trade within the EAEU+ region, boost agricultural output by 5-7% per year, and ensure food security for the 228 million people living in the region’s seven countries.

Enhanced cooperation among Central Asian countries can unlock the region’s hydropower potential, improve the efficiency of water use, and ensure optimal development of the water and energy complex. This will be facilitated by the EDB’s mega-project in the Central Asian water and energy sector. The Bank estimates the water shortages for irrigation during the summer months at 26%, with losses as high as 50%. By 2035, electricity demand in Central Asia will soar by 46%. Joint coordinated development would increase water availability by 40%, improve GDP growth by an additional 1.5%, and free up US $22 billion in investment.

The EDB Fund for Digital Initiatives focuses on a range of initiatives in the area of digital transformation in the EAEU+.

“When I see the EAEU’s digital projects and read the governments’ decisions on how they will improve the quality of services, I understand that for 99% this is about digitising existing business processes,” said Tigran Sargsyan, Vice Chairman of the EDB Management Board and supervisor of the EDB Fund for Digital Initiatives, at the Congress’s digital session. “However, the new society needs digital transformation, not digitisation. A lot of government functions have become obsolete because these services can be provided on digital platforms,” he said.

During the Congress, Nikolai Podguzov, Chairman of the EDB Management Board, stated the need to harmonise green standards within the EAEU: “It would be valuable if we could come up with a harmonised taxonomy within the EAEU and a harmonised carbon trading market.” National taxonomies, or the documents that establish the criteria for green projects, have already been developed in Russia and Kazakhstan.

“We now need to discuss a carbon trading market and we do have serious initiatives in Russia and Kazakhstan,” Nikolai Podguzov continued. “Kazakhstan, for example, has piloted such a system since 2013. It does not cover all sectors but the key ones are there. Perhaps, this is still in the training mode as regards the cost of these traded carbon units but there are some very good developments.”

The EAEU countries will soon have to address many other challenges related to the global green agenda. Nikolai Podguzov and Sergey Brilev, President of the Global Energy Association and presenter at the VGTRK TV channel, discussed this during the presentation of the joint report entitled Clean Technologies for Eurasia’s Sustainable Future. Written with key international industry experts and young scientists, the report contains findings that address today’s energy challenges and contribute to reducing Eurasia’s carbon footprint.

The Eurasian Congress also became the venue for meetings of the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission and the Economic Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States. These brought together Sergey Lebedev, Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee and CIS Executive Secretary; Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission; Mher Grigoryan, Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia; Igor Petrishenko, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus; Alikhan Smailov, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan; Arzybek Kojoshev, First Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic; Alexei Overchuk, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia; and Jamshid Kuchkarov, Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan.

The Congress concluded with an award ceremony for the winners of the 7th Eurasian Integration and Development in the 21st Century journalist competition. The competition accepted materials published by the mass media from the Bank’s member countries – news agencies, newspapers, magazines, websites, and TV channels from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. Welcoming the winners, Sergey Vasiliev, Vice Chairman of the EDB Management Board, noted the importance of the media in promoting Eurasian integration. He thanked the winners for their high-quality work on integration topics and wished them new professional achievements.

The next Eurasian Congress is scheduled to take place in Moscow in late November or early December 2022.

Additional Information:

The Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) is an international financial institution promoting integration and development in its member countries. For 15 years, the Bank has worked to strengthen and broaden economic ties and foster comprehensive development in its member countries – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, and Tajikistan. The EDB's charter capital totals US $7 billion. The EDB’s portfolio mainly consists of projects with an integration effect in the areas of transport infrastructure, digitalisation, green energy, agriculture, industry, and mechanical engineering. The Bank adheres to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and ESG principles in its operations.

The EDB Media Centre:

Azima Sapargaliyeva +7 (777) 750 00 08 (Almaty)

Sergey Gorbachev +7 (916) 727 22 00 (Moscow) 
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