Russia has proposed Tajikistan to consider the possibility of obtaining that status of observer in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Russian Frist Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, told reporters in Moscow on April 20 following the meeting of the Tajik-Russian commission for trade and economic cooperation, according to Russian media reports.

“During the meeting, we proposed Tajikistan to look seriously at the status of observer in the Eurasian Economic Union,” Shuvalov was quoted as saying by Interfax.

According to him, this status does not entail membership in the EAEU.  “This status does not bear any political aspect, it will just promote increase in trade turnover and mutual penetration of the economies,” Russia official said.

“We ask the Tajik side to look carefully at this issue because issues of phytosanitary control, veterinary control, technical regulation and standards – all this leads to more free movement of commodities,” Shuvalov noted.  

"We are interested in the CIS member nations understanding what our EAEU partners and we are doing,” Shuvalov concluded.   

Recall, a report by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Transition Report 2017-18: Sustaining Growth, in particular, notes that Tajikistan is intensifying the study of the issue related to Tajikistan’s joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

The head of the Customs Service of Tajikistan reportedly announced in July last year that an expert committee had completed its study of Tajikistan’s potential EEU accession.  The results have not been made public, according to the report.

Negotiations for Tajikistan’s accession to the EEU have been slow.  However, the difficult situation in the banking sector and the broader economy might motivate Tajikistan to seek closer ties with the EEU to request financial support, the report says. 

The then head of the Customs Service under the Government of Tajikistan, Abdufattoh Ghoib told reporters in Dushanbe on July 19, 2016 that they had been studying the issue of entry and “The working group has prepared all necessary materials and submitted them for consideration to the government.”

Earlier in July 2016, Leonid Slutsky, a member of the Russian State Duma — chairman of the Committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States, Eurasian Integration, and Links with Compatriots — said that Tajikistan would soon announce its intention to join the EAEU.  Slutsky said, “I think Dushanbe will declare its wish within the next year — it [Tajikistan] seeks after this more than any other CIS nation.”

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is an economic union of states located primarily in northern Eurasia.  A treaty aiming for the establishment of the EAEU was signed on May 29, 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and came into force on January 1, 2015. Treaties aiming for Armenia's and Kyrgyzstan's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union were signed on October 9 and December 23, 2014, respectively.  Armenia's accession treaty came into force on January 2, 2015.  Kyrgyzstan's accession treaty came into effect on August 6, 2015.

The Eurasian Economic Union has an integrated single market of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of over 4 trillion U.S. dollars (PPP).  The EEU introduces the free movement of goods, capital, services and people and provides for common transport, agriculture and energy policies, with provisions for a single currency and greater integration in the future.  The union operates through supranational and intergovernmental institutions.  The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council is the “Supreme Body” of the Union, consisting of the Heads of the Member States.  The other supranational institutions are the Eurasian Commission (the executive body), the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council (consisting of the Prime Ministers of member states) and the Court of the EEU (the judicial body).