May 31, 2014
The recently-signed Eurasian Union agreement between Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan in Astana has brought into being the world’s newest trade bloc, as envisaged by President Putin since 2010.
The current size of the bloc is rather small, as it includes only about 170 million consumers. If, however, the Eurasian Union is destined to be the nucleus to which other Eurasian and even Asian countries would be interested to adhere in future, the bloc will eventually grow in terms of size and international clout.
One such potential candidate for membership is naturally Turkey, which would make a much more valued member of the Eurasian Union than of the European Union. If compared to Ukraine – a country that shunned the opportunity to join, which in turn might prove to be a blessing in disguise for Vladimir Putin – Turkey has a much stronger economy, almost double the population, its industries are complementary to Russia’s and it could host a much safer transport corridor to the EU for Russian oil and gas than Ukraine has ever done.
Instead of courting rebellious ASEAN partners – one thinks of those already fallen under the influence of the US or Japan – China, on the other hand, might also ultimately find the Eurasian Union a more attractive alternative. Again, the Chinese and Russian economies are complementary, there are existing military and security arrangements binding the two countries, and no border disputes between them to speak of.
Such a possible outcome would lead to the creation of the largest and economically most powerful trade bloc in history. It would also benefit from the advantage of having all the energy and mineral resources it would ever need within its own borders and not outside them. The only other economic bloc offering similar advantages is Mercosur. By comparison, the EU and even NAFTA are heavily dependent on imports of energy and raw materials from the Middle East, Africa or elsewhere.Florian Pantazi