Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the opening of the UNCTAD conference, May 20, 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
The world today is facing numerous challenges. The negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global socioeconomic situation is being aggravated by political factors, such as growing confrontation, centrifugal tendencies in multilateral trade, abuse of protectionist measures, and the use of illegitimate unilateral restrictions. There is an escalation of various interstate contradictions, which is fraught with the most serious consequences for the world economy.
We are witnessing the fragmentation and disintegration of long-standing trans-border chains of cooperative ties. People’s prosperity is being damaged and prospects for global economic growth are being undermined, as are the chances for an effective implementation of the development goals envisaged by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030). The choice of the UNCTAD venue to discuss these acute issues seems justified. The topicality of this event has been dictated by the preparations for the UNCTAD 15 Ministerial Conference, one of the most important objectives of which seems to be the formation of a wide-ranging unifying global agenda on issues of trade and development in the short term.
We are firmly convinced that the world community will only be able to effectively combat global threats by strictly following the multilateral trade rules agreed within the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), renouncing protectionist measures and taking collective interests into account to the greatest possible extent. In this context, any multilateral anti-crisis initiatives should be agreed upon, should avoid affecting aspects of national sovereignty, and need to be implemented with the United Nations playing a coordinating role.
Russia supports the implementation of Agenda 2030, which was approved thanks to the commitment to multilateral cooperation, principles of equality, and common responsibility and solidarity displayed by the countries involved.
My country is implementing Agenda 2030 successfully and is confidently advancing towards the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level. Last year, Russia presented its Voluntary National Review on the SDGs that contains information on our main achievements in the economic, social and environmental areas during the first five years since the global goals were coordinated.
Russia is also contributing to the implementation of Agenda 2030 by giving financial and technical assistance to the countries concerned; the annual amount of this assistance exceeds $1 billion. The priority recipients of Russian aid are CIS states.
Given the growing number of regional integration associations and their increased weight in world politics, it seems important to establish a mechanism of coordination and exchange of experience between them. The integration associations possess powerful resources for implementing the SDGs and overcoming the negative consequences of the pandemic, as well as for an early post-COVID revival of the world economy. Establishing inter-regional dialogue seems a constructive step preventing a rollback to bloc confrontation and making it possible to effectively fight the distortions related to the abuse of unilateral restrictive measures and the rule of force.
In this connection, we regard the initiative by our Belarusian and Barbadian partners to launch a dialogue mechanism between integration associations and have UNCTAD join this process as quite timely. It is fully in conformity with the Conference’s mandate: its authoritative expert potential seems highly necessary in the context of the task to enhance the role of regional economic ties in the global efforts to implement the SDGs.
Regional integration, primarily within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is an important driver in ensuring Russia’s sustainable and inclusive economic growth. One of its main goals is to create the conditions for the steady economic development of its member countries with a view to improving their living standards. We are pleased to note that the EAEU countries are moving towards the SDGs at an accelerated pace in the areas that are within the competence of the Union’s supranational bodies.
The common market and its four freedoms – the movement of goods, services, capital and workforce – are giving the EAEU countries indisputable competitive advantages on the road to reaching such SDGs as the complete eradication of poverty, food security, sustainable economic growth and comprehensive industrialisation.
By now, the EAEU has completed its initial development stage as an efficient international organisation of regional economic integration and is now revealing its potentialities as a key instrument in ensuring sustainable economic development, building up cooperation ties, enhancing the competitiveness of the EAEU countries and promoting their economic interests in the world arena.
The EAEU has passed the endurance test during the coronavirus pandemic, thereby demonstrating that inclusion into integration processes makes it much easier to maintain economic sustainability in an emergency, including a non-economic one. The recent statistics from international agencies bear this out. The indicators of the GDP growth are expected to be better than those of the past year in all EAEU countries.
It is worth mentioning separately the final SDG, the 17th, which in our opinion is of great importance. It urges the participants to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. This is a task for effective financial institutions operating in the Eurasian area, designed to even out the differences in the levels of economic development between the member countries and their regions and create a foundation for further sustainable growth. These include, in part, the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) and the Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development (EFSD).
At the same time, we must note that to increase the benefits from regionalisation and achieve better results, it is important for integration associations to develop ties with other economic blocs that are also striving to improve the wellbeing of their people and go over to sustainable development. In this context, we welcome the EAEU’s evolving cooperation with other integration associations, such as the Andean Community, ASEAN, MERCOSUR, the Pacific Alliance and the African Union, to name a few.
Institutionalisation of the EAEU’s ties with the Eurasian countries and associations is one of the elements of promoting the initiative of the Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) put forward by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2015. It provides for the formation of a broad pan-Eurasian integration framework linking national and regional development strategies in Eurasia with a view to building a common space of cooperation and confidence along the lines of equality, mutual respect and consideration for each other’s national features.
The EAEU has six major international trade agreements: with Vietnam, Iran, Singapore, Serbia and two with China. Similar agreements are now being discussed with Egypt and Israel and preparations for talks with India are underway. New negotiations with promising trade partners are under discussion. The EAEU has developed cooperation through the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) with a number of other Eurasian countries and integration associations, in part, with the CIS Executive Committee and the ASEAN Secretariat.
The Eurasian Economic Commission and the European Commission maintain mostly technical contacts. The EAEU is willing to make them more systematic and meaningful.
We believe the activities of UN regional economic commissions have a big potential for developing interregional integration in the context of the implemention of the 2030 Agenda. The UN European Economic Commission and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in which Russia takes part, have a broad contractual foundation in areas such as transport, energy, trade and environmental protection. Their relevant bodies are actively developing the transit potential of the participants and connections between them and harmonising their industry-specific standards. These entities hold annual forums on sustainable development, which allow them to assess the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the regional level, taking into account the existing and would-be economic integration associations.
I wish you success in your work.