Kazakh Public Gives Eurasian Integration Mixed Reviews

By Dmitry Lee

The citizens of three countries; Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia woke up in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) right after the new year’s celebrations on Jan. 1. The official view and Eurasian economic Union emblemhope for that union is that it will improve the economies of the three countries, facilitate trade and logistics between memberstates and increase the employment possibilities. But is it really so? But how is the Union viewed by regular Kazakhs? EdgeKz spoke to the public to find out.

Aliya Demeisenova“Nothing has changed in my life since the 1st of January,” said Aliya Demeisenova, a 25-year- old mass media representative and editor-moderator.

According to Demeisenova, to keep up with larger companies now, local businesses will have to put in more efforts, as the competition has tripled on the common market.

“It is always good when new horizons and possibilities open up as they increase the influx of new employees, which in turn stimulates competitiveness and keeps all on top of their games. I think our local mass media competitiveness would be to the advantage for both journalists and public relations professionals as this will create a new market. As one of the co-founders of one of the prospective projects in the media, I am glad that we can target such a large market right away and this automatically forces us to keep improving and put in a lot more efforts to stay competitive with others,” Demeisenova told EdgeKz.

“If we talk about the media market in general the most important thing is to maintain the state’s informational security. Competition in this case, too, must play a positive role as only high- quality, interesting media could influence a society; viewers and readers, they can’t be easily fooled. But on the whole, domestic businesses should be legally protected from being thrown out of the local market. As a journalist, I can judge the situation by frequent complaints of domestic entrepreneurs who are despaired as they can’t compete with costs in other markets. This is easily observed on the shelves in shops; we have never had such an abundance of products from Russia and Belarus. The Russian producers are particularly active as they’re isolated from the European market by sanctions. This issue should have been previewed prior to the integration but apparently both business and experts working on the agreement underestimated the situation or did not want to do that. There are many inconsistent legal aspects unfavorable for our manufacturers, but this should be handled by specialists,” Demeisenova told EdgeKz.

A second-year student of the faculty of International Relations of the Eurasian National Nniversity and also a President of the Diplomatic Alliance Club Dinara Abuova believes it is difficult to determine all the advantages and disadvantages of the EAEU at this early stage of the integration.

“It has been only a few months since the EAEU was launched. The main aim of the union is to be able respond to the world economic crisis and the turbulent economic situation. However, Dinara Abuovait is very hard to feel [any] changes in economy in the period of several months. As a citizen of Kazakhstan, I am hoping for favorable conditions for our businesses and enterprises. Also, I am looking forward to increased export of Kazakh products within the union, and, of course, to avoid being affected by the waves of the world economic crisis, which is very important for everyone today.”

Among some of the opportunities of the EAEU Abuova underlined the freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labor.

“As a future graduate, I think every university graduate will take advantage in the sphere of free movement of labor from ‘four freedoms’; the free movement of goods, capital, services and employment within the union. I am looking forward to this integration to discover new opportunities and chances for self-realisation because as a future diplomat I want to work in a government and to take part in creating the sustainable development conditions for our economy and coordinate policy in the key areas of economy,” Abuova said.

“I will definitely take advantage of the goods and services within the EAEU because even today I find more Russian products with higher quality compared to others, however, I always try to buy our national products to support our enterprises,” she continued. “I am now considering only the affordability of goods and services because the flow of capital and people is not in my interest now, but I am sure that in the future the work opportunities and easy movement of the capital within the region will be an advantage for me. Also the free movement within the union to participate in different educational events will be easier. Some products for me as a consumer will be more available and with higher quality.”

“As a citizen of Kazakhstan it is always a pleasure to see products labelled ‘Made in Kazakhstan,’ we trust such products more because all the resources are local. As a future civil servant I hope that the creation of such a union will expand possibilities of cooperation both internally and externally in the economic sector.”

A 32-year-old pharmacist, mother of two and a housewife Aliya Mukhambetaliyeva believes that the economic integration is only advantageous for large businesses and will not affect Aliya Mukhambetaliyevathe lives of regular citizens.

“This economic union will not change anything in my life I think,” she said. “The only changes would maybe in the goods we buy with the new union. As for my salary, daily lives of my close ones, I don’t think our lives will change. Maybe for our children in the future.”

“I also heard that free movement of labor has not been enacted yet, and there are posts on social media outlets that this might not happen at all,” she continued. But perhaps the legislations regarding the new union not have been activated so far. The time will tell. But from what we see on television and the news, overall this union hopefully will help build a stable economy. Hopefully all these plans and projects will return with profit and growth for our economy.”

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