ISLAMABAD: The newly-established Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is seen by top-notch Pakistani intellectuals and experts of international relations as a highly significant development not very far away from their own nation, which is all set to impact upon the economic and political landscape of the wider region around Pakistan.
The EEU, signed on May 29 and to be enforced from the beginning of the next year, will initially include Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus but is expected to net in some other states of the former USSR. The union is being promoted primarily as a tool of economic integration among the member states and not as a political organization. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev who has been promoting the idea of such a union for two decades emphasizes that “any union must base on the principles of economic pragmatism, voluntarism, equality and non-interference in internal affairs of each other.”
Together the founding members of EEU share a population of 170 million and a combined GDP of 2.7 trillion. It is expected that another $600 billion will be added up to the combined GDP of member states by 2030, registering a growth of 25 percent altogether. Khalid Rahman, director general of the Institute of Policy Studies – a leading non-governmental think-tank based in Islamabad – finds the signing of agreement on Eurasian Economic Union as “a very important development taking place in Pakistan’s immediate neighborhood.”
He considers it a useful initiative for enhanced regional cooperation in the region known as Eurasia. Rahman, however, stresses that “a well-though-out mechanism should be ensured [in all such initiatives] so that the benefits of economic cooperation are shared equitably by all.” The union builds upon the success of Customs Union (CU) and Common Economic Space (CES) under which the founding three members have already been cooperating. Trade and investment cooperation between the three nations has grown phenomenally after the CU and CES were established.
Dr. S. Khan, a professor of international relations at the National Defence University is of the view that “EEU will be an important link between Asia and Europe.” Citing the all-important European Union on EEU’s western borders and the world’s new economic powerhouse China on the eastern frontiers, he believes that the Union may provide a new impetus for global economic cooperation and integration. Kyrgyzstan and Armenia are also expected to join the Union soon, though the former has shown some reluctance and regarding the latter there are some differences among the founding members.
Dr Saima Ashraf Kayani, head of defence and diplomatic studies at Fatima Jinnah Women University feels that “EEU will not only enhance economic cooperation among the members; but will also serve the purpose of uplifting the quality of life of their citizens.”
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