Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian cited Armenia’s growing trade with Russia and other members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on Tuesday as he hosted a meeting of fellow heads of government from the Russian-led trade bloc.
Speaking at the meeting held in Yerevan, Pashinian also renewed his calls for the creation of a common EEU market for natural gas and oil mostly extracted in Russia.
“I am happy to note that there is a growth in commercial turnover with between Armenia and the union’s [other] member states,” he said. “EEU countries’ share in Armenia’s exports reached 28.5 percent in 2018.”
“[Armenian] exports to the union’s member states rose by 20 percent while overall trade by 11 percent,” he added.
According to official Armenian statistics, Russia accounted for almost 97 percent of that trade, which totaled around $2 billion last year. Armenia’s exports to Russia soared by almost 20 percent, to $666.5 million. By comparison, Armenia’s trade with the European Union stood at $1.83 billion in 2018.
Pashinian said that further economic integration of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia requires “the creation of common oil, gas and other hydrocarbon markets.” He said the EU member states should step up their efforts to put their energy cooperation on a “non-discriminatory footing.”
Pashinian made a similar point when he visited the EEU’s Moscow headquarters in January. He was understood to imply that Russian gas should be as cheap in Russia as it is in Armenia and other EEU members importing it.
Belarus, which is also heavily dependent on Russian gas and oil, has long been advocating this idea.
Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Rumas complained on Tuesday about hurdles to greater commerce among the EEU member states, saying that they have become more serious of late. He seemed to allude to his country’s latest energy dispute with Russia.
Nevertheless, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev declared at the Yerevan meeting that the EEU has proved to be a success since being set up five years ago. He noted ongoing efforts to make it a more effective organization.