Linking the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Eurasian Economic Union: Mission Impossible?

The goal of the paper is to examine the prospects for cooperation between two ambitious regional integration projects in Eurasia – the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Both Chinese and Russian leadership proclaim their goal of linking these two initiatives; however, the actual potential for cooperation is disputed by observers. This paper argues that the EEU and the SREB are strikingly different in terms of their design and goals – however, it is precisely these differences that create the possibility of the projects’ co-existence in the Eurasian space, creating positive spillovers, as well as a limited agenda for more explicit cooperation. However, there are also important obstacles to cooperation: namely the growing protectionism in Russia; the danger of redistributional conflicts between the states of Eurasia; as well as broader geopolitical concerns.

Authors: Alexander Libman
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