Participants in the videoconference meeting discussed, in particular, the measures taken within the Eurasian Economic Union to ensure economic stability against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
Delegation heads taking part in the meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council:
Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan;
Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Sergei Roumas;
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin;
Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev;
Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin;
Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission Board Mikhail Myasnikovich;
Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova Ion Chicu.
Mikhail Mishustin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
I am confident that during these times we need to be in close coordination as regards our efforts within the union. The global situation around the coronavirus pandemic is still very difficult. The EAEU mechanisms have already proven to be efficient. Our countries are working together consistently as a team in order to counter the common threat together.
The governments of our countries are coordinating their efforts within the EAEU and are taking all the necessary measures to combat the spread of this dangerous infection. They are monitoring the situation in real time. Only such consistent joint work can protect our citizens and minimise the restrictions on the movement of goods and labour within the union.
The Eurasian Economic Commission has prepared a package of measures to fight the coronavirus and support the economy in these difficult times. It is important that these measures are adopted urgently and are effective in the areas where we must step up our efforts.
What are we speaking about? Our priority is to protect the lives and health of our people. We need to intensify sanitary and epidemiological cooperation, quickly make decisions at the level of the Eurasian Economic Commission, and even take preemptive steps to prevent the massive spread of the disease.
We must take care so that the five states have all the medicines and medical devices they need to fight the virus and expand coronavirus testing.. Russia has already given its union partners diagnostic test kits. In particular, they helped identify the first cases in Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Preventive measures make it possible to flatten the curve. They help hospitals, doctors and the entire healthcare system manage the increased workload.
The second task is to ensure the functioning of the EAEU single market, especially its logistics infrastructure for mutual purchases. Several decisions have already been taken. Some goods are exempt from import duties, such as disinfectants, personal protective equipment, diagnostic reagents, and medical equipment and materials. For the first time, a temporary collective ban has been introduced on the export of these goods from the territory of the union.
It is important here that the mechanism of preliminary consultations works to the full extent, so that we can make decisions to introduce temporary restrictions to counter the coronavirus infection as quickly as possible, in the course of 48 hours. We have envisaged targeted support in case there is a shortage of goods.
Third, economic support is an important area where we must step up our efforts. Our joint efforts must mitigate the negative impact; we must learn how to act during the uncertainty on the global markets. This is extensive, complex work. Speaking about Russia, we have set aside significant funds to counter the coronavirus. We are helping people whose lives have changed due to the spread of the virus, as well as enterprises, companies and economic sectors. In order to do this, we have developed and adopted an anti-crisis plan and determined the most hard-hit industries to provide them with targeted support.
A separate package of measures will target small and medium-sized businesses. These companies are suffering a major blow. To minimise the impact of the crisis, we made provisions for various relief measures for such businesses, including tax deferrals, loan and rent payment holidays, and social insurance premium payment postponement for micro companies, as well as introduced a moratorium on fines and bankruptcy. We also limited the number of audits and inspections, and abandoned some of them completely.
Special attention will be paid to vital, backbone companies. We are monitoring their financial status against the backdrop of falling oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic. The possibility of providing state guarantees for such companies’ loans has also been considered.
We continue this work. We are currently developing a large second package of measures that will be aimed at supporting the population and business people.
This is our national experience, even though all countries are facing the same problems, as our colleagues said. Therefore, it is important to act together and, of course, to update each other on the adopted and planned measures to preserve macroeconomic stability and trade within the union. This way, we will be able to help each other more efficiently. I want to emphasise that our union has proven its ability to take the necessary measures urgently and work for the benefit of our countries.
Anna Popova: Mr Roumas, Mr Mishustin, meeting participants. The spread of the novel coronavirus infection has affected all member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, united by a common epidemiological space. Participants in this meeting mentioned it repeatedly today. Our common approaches to responding to infectious threats, based on the traditions of Soviet epidemiology and the competent work of the sanitary and epidemiological services, have helped us buy valuable time. For two months together we have managed to slow down the spread of the epidemic in our countries. It gave the governments of the EAEU countries time to boost the capacities of their healthcare systems to counter the infectious disease.
An important contribution to increasing the readiness of our countries was made by the Council of Heads of Authorised Bodies in the Field of Sanitary and Epidemiological Welfare of the Population of the EAEU States. The council was founded in 2015 in response to the threat of that time, Ebola, and has since proven its efficiency. Last January, when information about the spread of the novel coronavirus came out, we held our first videoconference meeting on this matter. On Monday, 13 April, we will hold the sixth such videoconference. During our meetings, we coordinate and plan the implementation of counter-epidemic measures, develop common response algorithms, and when necessary, adjust them with account of the experience and best practices of the union members and other countries.
Today the coronavirus situation in the EAEU countries is difficult. All countries are seeing the number of infected people grow. Our common task is to continue implementing counter-epidemic measures aimed at preventing an explosion of coronavirus cases. So far, our countries have not shown such a surge.
Such priority areas as balanced restrictive measures, timely case finding, including through a broad population coverage by testing as well as quality medical assistance to the patients, all in combination with the measures taken at the government level, that is restrictive measures in response to an aggravation of or change in the epidemiological situation, involving closure of the borders and suspension of air and overland transit, as well as quarantine for persons crossing national borders, are important components of protection against the novel coronavirus infection.
Of course, it is also very important to communicate with the public to ensure observance of the restrictions and to provide timely information on the adopted measures.
In all countries these measures are operating in two areas. First, it is vitally important to stop, as far as it is possible, person-to-person contact. This is the purpose of all isolation measures. And second, to stop the virus circulation in the environment, where it gets on the surface. To this end, it is very important to use all disinfection methods in order to destroy the virus as soon as it appears or as soon as an individual enters the space where the virus is present.
Meanwhile, testing is extremely important, just as it was mentioned today. The sooner we discover the infected person, the lower the risk that he or she will infect others.
At our council we coordinate the necessary assistance and determine our partners’ needs in fighting the novel coronavirus infection. As Mr Mishustin has already noted, Russia is rendering assistance to the countries of the union as well as to our partners from the Republic of Moldova. We have supplied our colleagues with diagnostic kits for over 60,000 tests and are prepared to provide the required assistance further. Soon we will provide the countries of the union with diagnostic kits for over 50,000 tests. Today we will supply reagents for 20,000 tests to our Armenian friends and Kyrgyzstan will be supplied with 10 infrared thermometers for its checkpoints.
There is no doubt that we are living in a new reality. Nobody can say when this will be over. No country and no scientist can predict the behaviour of the virus that we have known for only three months.
But at the same time, given that this is a new reality and the economy cannot be stopped, our country has adopted decisions on the operation of vital, backbone enterprises and continuous production cycle enterprises. We developed special conditions at the federal level and sanitary requirements for such enterprises to make it safe for the people to work there and allow the economy to develop. My colleagues held consultations at each enterprise to adjust these general rules and ensure the safe operation of the production facilities.
We already outlined the further steps to strengthen the integrated national system and regional systems of prevention, detection and response to the infection outbreaks that have pandemic potential.
The council proved to be an efficient mechanism for prompt interaction of relevant services in countering the epidemic in the Eurasian space. I would like to thank the Eurasian Economic Commission for its efforts to streamline the activities of the council.
Today we are developing a comprehensive plan to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and other infectious diseases. We will finish this work soon and present this plan to the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission.
I also want to express hope that the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council will support the further multifaceted cooperation of the EAEU authorised agencies engaged in countering infections in the common epidemiological space. Our goal is to ensure the collective sanitary and epidemiological wellbeing by developing a common regional system of monitoring and counteracting the threat of epidemics based on common approaches and work algorithms.