Ibero-America Looks to Eurasian Economic Union for Economic Ties
June 3, 2021 (EIRNS)—The Russia-Latin America panel at today’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum made clear that the potential for the expansion of economic ties between those countries “is huge,” because Russia proved itself a reliable partner in securing COVID vaccine supplies and production for the region. Vaccine cooperation, prospects for increasing trade and investment flows, bilaterally and with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and the possibility of doing so without using the dollar, dominated the discussion.
High-level ministry officials from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala, Guyana, and Venezuela, the Secretary General of the Andean Community (of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru), the President of the Central American Parliament, and the head of the national Brazilian pharmaceutical company, União Química, were the speakers scheduled from the Ibero-American side.
Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Commission Sergei Glazyev dominated the panel discussion from the Russian side. He was joined by the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) and the panel’s excellent moderator, Sergey Brilev, the knowledgeable anchor of the “News on Saturday” program on Rossiya TV Channel and head of the Bering-Bellingshausen Institute for the Americas in Uruguay.
Brazil’s União Química Farmacêutica Nacional President Fernando de Castro Marques reported that production of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V is underway in Brazil. The pharmaceutical has produced its first batch, and once it clears the quality checks of Sputnik V maker Gamaleya Institute, it will start producing 8 million Sputnik V doses per month, for both Brazil and its Ibero-American neighbors. Between the Brazilian-produced Sputnik V doses and 100 million vaccine doses imported from China and India, he said Brazil could have 70% of its people vaccinated by the end of this year, while also exporting vaccines to the region, he emphasized.
Guatemalan Economic Minister Roberto Antonio Malouf Morales jumped: How long did you say it will take to produce 8 million doses? One month! Guatemala has 8 million people! We have suffered a 15% drop in our economy in the pandemic—with those vaccines we can recover faster!
Malouf Morales, Chile’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Economic Relations Rodrigo Yanez Benítez, and Andean Community head Jorge Hernando Pedraza Gutierrez, all spoke of working out trade agreements with the EAEU. The Guatemalan and Chilean officials specified that they want to expand economic relations with Armenia and Belarus, through the EAEU, whose member nations include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.
Both Malouf Morales and Yanez Benítez had met separately with Sergey Glazyev before the panel. More than any details, the scope of the EAEU discussions in the region was best indicated by the Guatemalan Minister’s remark that if you say “Sergey” in Ibero-America today, everyone knows whom you are talking about.
The memoranda of understanding being signed between Ibero-America and the EAEU reflect the restructuring towards a polycentric world underway, Glazyev said, but the question is how to turn them into actual business. He raised, in some detail, the need to create mechanisms to carry out this trade outside the U.S. dollar, “which has become toxic for us.” His remarks made clear that discussions are underway both nationally and at the level of businesses, of how to create a digital currency for trade between the EAEU and Ibero-America.