Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country supports the initiative to extend an interim free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Iran despite the “confrontation” by the “collective West.”
Negotiations are proactively underway on a full-fledged free trade agreement between the EAEU and Iran to replace the current temporary pact of 2018, the Russian president, who is also one of the heads of the EAEU, said on Friday.
Putin made the remarks at a plenary session held during the First Eurasian Economic Forum which opened in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Thursday. The heads of the EAEU states participated in the forum via videoconferencing.
Putin said the EAEU-Iran trade turnover increased by 73.5 percent to $5 billion in 2021 due to the current agreement.
"Despite the confrontation unleashed by the so-called collective West, it is quite obvious to all of us that many foreign partners have shown growing interest in the activities of the EAEU," he said.
He said that Russia considers it appropriate to intensify the negotiations on a free trade agreement with Egypt, to start similar talks with Indonesia, and to study the possibility of a preferential trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
The EAEU is a regional bloc consisting of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia, which seeks to optimize the flow of goods and services among its members.
The bloc, which began its activities in 2015, has an integrated market of 184 million people and a gross domestic product of over $5 trillion.
In 2016, Iran proposed the creation of a free trade zone between itself and this economic bloc. After two years of negotiations, an interim agreement was reached and signed on May 17, 2018, within the framework of the Astana Economic Forum.
The value of trade between Iran and the members of the EAEU exceeded $1.957 billion in the first five months of the previous Iranian calendar year (March 21 – August 22, 2021), marking 96 percent growth year on year.
The current agreement will expire on October 5, 2022. For this reason, the parties have recently begun technical and expert negotiations to upgrade the PTA to a free trade agreement (FTA).
According to a statement by Alireza Peymanpak, Iranian deputy trade minister who also serves as the head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, Iran and the EAEU are expected to sign a free trade agreement in the eighth Iranian calendar month of Azar (Nov. 22-Dec. 21).