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Working paper

The Russian “Pivot to the East” Policy: the Puzzle of Exports, FTAs and Eurasian Integration

The idea of the lagging Pivot suggests that the Russian policy of the “Pivot to the East” cannot last successfully on a long-term basis given the extensive lag between the political and economic dimensions of the Pivot, in Russia and abroad. One of the most inevitable and necessary conditions of bridging this gap can be found among the instruments of trade liberalization. Here we should shift our focus from Russian interests to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) which has a privileged mandate on merchandise trade negotiations with third countries and blocs like ASEAN: Russia has not been able sign any FTA on its own since 2015. However, this puzzle was relatively poorly studied both in Russia and abroad and this paper attempts to fill this gap. We briefly analyze the scope of trade between Russia and key Asian markets (which still remain mostly limited to North-East Asia) to define the most sensitive export markets for Russia, then we systematize existing barriers which could be potentially eliminated by international trade negotiations and compare them with existing international activity of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC). The results of our study clearly demonstrate an objective demand for more intensive EAEU activity on trade liberalization in Asia with a particular focus on non-tariff barriers (NTBs).