On April 29, at the initiative of the Embassy of Kazakhstan and the Trade Representation of Kazakhstan in Russia, a hands-on online conference was held with the participation of prominent experts from the two countries. The theme of the event was, of course, the state of the world economy and how to continue building trade and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia within the framework of the EEC going forward into the post-Corona period. For about two hours, experts talked about the economic risks, but also the new opportunities that the crisis had opened up. Experts sat down for a group “brainstorm” on what new mechanisms would have to be implemented to prop up and possibly increase trade in the near future.
The key to success is joining forces.
The Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Russia, Ermek Kosherbaev, recalled the challenges and unprecedented risks faced by the world economy. He outlined the problem: the pace of production and international trade fell sharply, prices for major types of export goods fell, and the rates of all national currencies “stalled”. According to the diplomat, all these difficulties can be overcome only by doubling down and pursuing globalist policies even harder than before. “As the Presidents of the EAEU countries noted in the Joint Statement of April 14, the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic should not lead to a breakdown of established cooperative ties, a halt in international trade, or a cessation of investment activity,” the ambassador emphasized.
Vice Minister of Trade and Integration Kairat Torebaev noted that today the world economy is experiencing a “perfect storm” of disasters. Borders are closed, oil prices are falling sharply, exports are limited and this will ultimately affect the trade between countries – with a 15% drop in domestic turnover expected by the EAEU. In his opinion, the main solution is to consolidate efforts and develop joint measures to artificially prop up trade, without which trade relations between Kazakhstan and Russia might begin to sour. “We conducted an analysis of what we will now be able to increase and develop – there are 55 different goods, the export of which we would like to increase to neighboring countries (in particular to Russia – worth about 179.4 million USD). We see great opportunities in this and will work it out directly with our colleagues from the Russian Federation, ”Kairat Torebaev promised.
That being said, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Alexey Gruzdev soberly remarked that it would be reasonable to expect a sagging in bilateral trade and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia, which had previously been strong, going forward.
Conference participants were keen on coming up with ways to mitigate the fallout of the coronavirus measures. Many proposals were made to eliminate unnecessary obstacles in trade, with a focus on simplifying certification procedures and passing goods across borders more quickly by relying more heavily on digitalization. According to the experts themselves, the meeting was constructive and productive.