Negotiations on a full-scale free trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) are planned for the second half of 2021. The success of the current interim agreement with Iran suggests that initiating a proper FTA could indeed work. However, a number of obstacles—which have nothing to do with customs duties and trade tariffs—need to be eliminated if any possible agreement is to bear fruit. Being the parties most interested in reaching such an agreement, Iran and Russia remain the main drivers of Iran’s rapprochement with the EAEU.
A Full-Scale Agreement
Signing a full-scale free-trade agreement with Iran was hardly surprising, given the previous agreements between the EAEU and Tehran. On May 17, 2018, Iran put pen to paper on a three-year interim agreement on the establishment of a free trade area (FTA) that entered into force on October 27, 2019. Among other things, the parties agreed to launch talks on making the interim agreement permanent (with changes) no later than 18 months after it would come into effect, as well as to conclude such talks within three years of that same date.
Everything that the parties have said and done in this respect has been in accordance with the previous agreements. The decision to launch negotiations with Iran was made on December 11, 2020, and the first consultations took place on February 17, 2021, that is, somewhat less than 16 months after the FTA agreement entered into force.
Assuming everything goes to plan, the issue of a full-scale agreement should be settled before October 27, 2021. To this end, more comprehensive negotiations have been pencilled in for the second half of this year. In any case, the sides still have over a year to resolve any issues that may come up, as Minister of Energy of Iran Reza Ardakanian duly noted in early March when he said, “We’ve got some one and a half years to put things in place.” 
In other words, a full-scale free-trade agreement between Iran and the EAEU may not necessarily be concluded by the end of this year. Judging by what both Iran and the EAEU member states say, all the sides are interested in replacing the interim agreement with a permanent one. However, a new round of talks will surely focus on expanding the range of goods and reducing the duties even further. The parties will try to protect the interests of their domestic producers as much as possible, and it will hardly be surprising if they fail to reach a consensus straight away so that everything eventually drags out.
There is another factor that might prove a serious obstacle to cooperation between the EAEU and Iran, which is the EAEU’s ongoing FTA negotiations with Israel. The Israeli Ambassador to Russia has noted that such an agreement could be signed as early as this year. Iran has yet to comment on the matter. However, should Tel Aviv and the EAEU manage to reach agreement, there are forces within the Iranian political system that are capable of stirring up a wave of discontent, which could scupper all diplomatic efforts invested to achieve a full-scale FTA.
The rumour that Iran could be about to join the EAEU added a new dimension to this story. Tongues started wagging following the comments made by Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament, after his trip to Moscow on February 10, 2021, which many interpreted as Tehran announcing its intentions to become a full-fledged member of the Union. A number of Russian and English publications ran with the story, discussing the prospects of such a move.
However, the Ministry of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan would later deny these rumours. There are certain procedures that must be followed to become a member of the EAEU, including that of submitting an application to the Chairman of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. “As of February 17, 2021,” the Ministry’s statement reads, “the relevant application has not been received from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
A Pivot to the East
The very notion of rapprochement between Iran and the EAEU fits comfortably into Tehran’s strategy of pivoting to Asia and its markets. The move started to take shape back in the 2000s and was mainly motivated by economic trends, namely, the growing need in energy resources of the rapidly developing Asian economies, such as China and India. Then sanctions followed, and following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018 the pressure has considerably increased. All this made the Iranian elites to become disenchanted with the idea of fostering economic ties with Europe, as businesses in the EU turned out to be most sensitive to the restrictions imposed by Washington.
It would seem that cooperation with the EAEU avails Iran an opportunity to mitigate the effects of the U.S. sanctions policy. The fact that several EAEU countries are under Western sanctions certainly helps in this respect. On February 7, 2021, Roman Golovchenko, Prime Minister of Belarus, argued that the EAEU is looking to develop a mechanism for countering sanctions to give cause for optimism.
What is more, Iran is interested in abandoning the U.S. dollar in settlements and switching to national currencies. This remedy acquired even greater urgency once Iran was cut off from the SWIFT international settlement system as a result of U.S. pressure. The EAEU has repeatedly stated that it is consistently moving towards this goal. Similar comments and practices are evident in bilateral relations between individual EAEU member states and Iran.
Finally, Tehran is trying to break out of its political isolation. Rapprochement with the EAEU could thus help elevate its status on the international stage. On the whole, establishing the interim FTA with its subsequent transformation into a full-scale agreement should be viewed in the broader context of Iran’s striving to strengthen regionalism and bolster Eurasian cooperation.
As far as the EAEU interests are concerned, one should say that Iran represents serious potential for the Union’s expansion. Among the economies of the EAEU member states, observers and partners, the Iranian economy is second only to Russia’s. In terms of economic cooperation, Russia and Kazakhstan stand to benefit most from lowering tariff barriers. In addition, the project is of particular interest to Armenia, which is the only EAEU member that has a land border with Iran—currently under a partial blockade. Armenia could thus be used as a transit country for Iranian imports and exports. A free-trade agreement with Tehran would also do wonders for Moscow’s integration policy.
The interim agreement on establishing a free trade area between the EAEU and Iran entered into force on October 27, 2019 and provided for a reduction in customs duties on 862 categories of goods (502 for Iranian exports and 360 for EAEU exports). The list of goods covers approximately 50% of the total mutual trade between the partners. The agreement came into effect amid a difficult time in Iran, owing to the U.S. sanctions regime and the coronavirus lockdown. Despite this, however, trade turnover between the EAEU and Iran grew to $2.9 billion in 2020, an 18% increase from 2019.
At the same time, as far as EAEU exports are concerned, we rather stand witness to their recovery to the level prior to the restoration of U.S. sanctions. It was immediately after the nuclear deal became effective and the sanctions against Iran were lifted in 2016 that exports hit a recent-year record high at $2.6 billion. While EAEU 2020 exports rose by 2% as compared to 2019, they only amounted to $1.6 billion.
A somewhat different situation could be observed in the case of EAEU imports from Iran in 2020, which grew by 51.5% as compared to 2019, surpassing $1.2 billion. This is significant, as for the previous ten years imports had not exceeded $1 billion. In other words, the Iranian economy benefited significantly more from the establishment of the FTA than the EAEU, at least during the initial stages of the deal. What is more, this had to do with non-oil sectors of Iran’s economy, as EAEU imports are primarily based on agricultural products.
At the same time, Iran occupies a relatively insignificant place in the trade balance of the EAEU countries, accounting for just 0.5% of all trade operations in the Union. Meanwhile, the EAEU countries account for approximately 3% of Iran’s trade balance.
We should also note the uneven distribution of trade between the individual EAEU countries and Iran. For example, Russia accounts for approximately 75% of all trade between the EAEU and Iran, which is around 85% of exports and 65% of imports. Kazakhstan accumulates some 10% of the total trade turnover, with its trade volume shrinking by 37% in 2020, as opposed to the trade with the EAEU as a whole. Meanwhile, the share of Belarus and Kyrgyzstan is almost next to nothing.
Relations between Tehran and Yerevan are somewhat different. Armenia makes up approximately 15% of all trade with the EAEU. Additionally, more than 25% of all EAEU imports from Iran go to Armenia. Armenia is thus a valuable partner for Iran, purchasing food and industrial products, as well as oil and gas from the country. These special relations are reflected in the fact that Iran makes up almost 9% of Armenia’s trade turnover.
Definite changes were recorded in the dynamics of trade relations following the conclusion of the interim FTA agreement. In the case of Russia, both exports and imports increased (by 19% and 100%, respectively). Meanwhile, Iran’s trade with Belarus and Kyrgyzstan remained negligible. In the case of Armenia, slight changes have taken place, with exports increasing by 1% and imports falling by 3%. Exports from Kazakhstan have dropped by 54%, while imports have increased by 32%.
In other words, the FTA serves as an incentive for Russia to foster trade with Iran. Kazakhstan has also increased its imports from the country. However, there have been no serious positive shifts with regard to the remaining EAEU countries.
It would seem that trade cooperation between Iran and the EAEU will do little to alter the economic situation for its participants. For Tehran, however, the EAEU can serve as a reliable partner with stable trade ties, something that is of particular importance to a country suffering partial economic isolation. Meanwhile, Moscow—still the key driver for cultivating economic relations with Iran—sees Tehran as a potential buyer of its industrial goods. This is especially important given the fact that hydrocarbons remain at the heart of Russia’s exports around the world. Finally, as we mentioned earlier, Iran can play a special role in the development of the Armenian economy.
Expanding the FTA agreement to include additional product lines may serve as a basis for bringing the economic relations between the parties to a new level. However, a number of barriers that have nothing to with customs duties and trade tariffs still pose a major problem for the development of trade between Iran and the EAEU. On the one hand, there are objective limitations that will hardly be eliminated in the foreseeable future. For example, trade opportunities are limited by the fact that the oil sector remains the backbone of the economies of Iran, Russia and Kazakhstan. This is why the EAEU cannot offer Iran anything comparable to what China offers. Then, there is the special position that Russia occupies on the EAEU energy markets. Tehran can hardly expect to significantly increase its gas supplies to Armenia, as Russia continues to have a hold on this market. Finally, U.S. sanctions play a huge role in limiting development opportunities, and the EAEU and Iran can only partially neutralize their negative effects.
At the same time, the parties are in a position to work on removing other equally important obstacles, for example, developing a transport and logistics infrastructure and automating and digitalizing customs procedures in order to avoid delays and red tape at the borders. Receiving payment for goods remains a big problem after Iran was cut off from the SWIFT system. Much work has already been done to transition to settlements in national currencies, although it is far from complete. What is more, Iran is not a member of the WTO, and its business practices do not meet international standards in most cases.
We should also mention the specifics of doing business in Iran, which presents additional challenges when it comes to concluding and implementing agreements with foreign partners. Iran’s economic isolation and unpredictable foreign policy environment are the core reasons why it keeps such business practices. Increasing its foreign economic activity, including that with the EAEU countries, should help Iranian businesses get to grips with working under the rules that have been adopted in international trade.
In other words, a full-scale agreement between Iran and the EAEU has great development prospects. However, real prospects primarily depend on the ability of both governments and businesses to work to remove those barriers that are not connected with customs duties and trade tariffs.
From our partner RIAC
Summit of Business within Portuguese-Speaking Countries
Long before the Portuguese-speaking countries wrapped up their first business summit in Simpopo, Equatorial Guinea that gathered approximately 250 government officials and corporate business leaders from Guinea Bissau, Cabo Verde and Sao Tome and Principe, Portugal, Brazil and Mozambique, it was described as a step directed at bringing sustained business development.
Some argued that the gathering historically provided the chance for immense business networking opportunities and building strategies. It additionally offers an important impetus for strengthening future corporate business collaboration among the countries.
According to the organisers, the primary goal was to explore ways to attract investments to the countries in bloc, as well as strengthening economic ties between member states and improving the business environment.
Opening the two-day summit, promoted by the Confederation of Businesspeople of the Community of Portuguese-language Countries (CPLP), President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang, said frequent militant attacks in Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, should be of concern to the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).
“The Republic of Mozambique is the scene of aggressions perpetrated, planned and financed from outside its borders, claiming human lives, displacing populations, destroying personal and public property, and sowing terror in the north of the country,” he said.
Obiang believes that the CPLP “should not remain oblivious to this tragedy, which goes beyond the dimensions of a simple internal conflict. It is an aggression”.
He characterised it as an opportunity to identify the challenges the bloc faces and seek ways to facilitate trade between CPLP countries as well as attracting more investment. “Our wish is that the business community takes this opportunity to form a common front when it comes to facing the challenges that affect its activity. It should also make the most of its respective advantages to participate actively in promoting economic cooperation among the CPLP countries, always having as priority the member countries of our community,” the Equatorial Guinea president said.
President of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, who participated in the summit virtually, advocated for the creation of customs facilities for CPLP countries within the bloc. “There is an urgent need to create joint solutions for the reciprocal protection of investments, reducing, or even eliminating, where possible, double taxation, and facilitating the circulation of public documents within our community without excessive authentication and notarisation burdens,” he urged.
President of Sao Tome and Principe, Evaristo Carvalho, spoke of the need for investments in the CPLP countries to be sustainable, especially in Equatorial Guinea, which was experiencing a boom in mineral resources. “Our appeal is to look at the country with confidence, stripped of a culture of short-termism. With thought for the country’s development, let’s seek sustainable solutions and invest in the medium and long term, he advised.
While various issues were discussed during the two days, there was particular interest in mineral exploitation, oil and gas development within the bloc. The panel session spent time analyzing widely the various dimensions and aspects of the sector.
Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons has called for a common project of the Portuguese-language countries for gas exploration, stressing the need for a longer energy transition in some African countries. “Hydrocarbon producing countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Mozambique or Brazil and Portugal, as a major consumer, it is very important that we can work on a coordinated project at the CPLP level to be able to exploit the gas for use in our economies,” Gabriel Obiang Lima said.
“It will be increasingly difficult to get funding to develop our [oil] products because worldwide there is a great motivation to carry out the energy transition from hydrocarbons to renewable energy,” he noted.
Despite this, he said, in countries such as Equatorial Guinea and others in Africa, this transition will have to take at least another 20 years. “Only then will we be at the level of developed countries,” he said.
The Equatorial Guinean Minister was speaking at a panel with government officials from Guinea Bissau, Cabo Verde and Sao Tome and Principe, as well as representatives from Portugal, Brazil and Mozambique on the role of governments in attracting foreign investment.
Speaking at the panel session, Luís Moreira Testa from the Portugal’s Socialist Party in Parliament, explained that in the new advent of renewable energy, Portugal has the potential to move from energy consumer to producer. “Hydrocarbons will serve in the coming decades as transition fuels. Portugal is a major consumer of natural gas, mainly from Algeria, and the new generation of natural gas consumption in Europe foresees the mandatory inclusion of green hydrogen,” he said.
According Luis Testa, the pipelines that bring gas from Algeria may soon take the gas produced in Equatorial Guinea or Mozambique cut with green hydrogen produced in Portugal. “This could be a great opportunity for energy communion in the CPLP,” he said.
Cabo Verde’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, Alexandre Dias Monteiro, considered mobility within the Portuguese-speaking community as a critical factor for creating a favourable framework for business and foreign investment. “Mobility is a critical factor for contacts and exchanges between companies and businesspeople,” he said, stressing the progress made in this area in recent years, which should make it possible to sign a mobility agreement at the next summit of heads of state and government, in July in Luanda.
Guinea-Bissau’s Economy Minister, Victor Mandinga, advocated the creation of an investment promotion agency at the community level to link up with agencies in each of the countries. “This mechanism is essential to make legislation on investment more homogenous and the distribution of investment opportunities between countries more harmonised,” he said, adding that businesspeople lacked transversal information about the CPLP as a whole.
Sao Tome’s Foreign Minister, Edite Ten Jua, noted the importance of creating a climate of trust for attracting investment, particularly in terms of legal protection and tax justice, as well as simplifying administrative procedures, along with the existence of infrastructure and means of transport and communications.
President of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries Business Confederation Salimo Abdula, speaking during the opening, urged the governments of member countries to speed up the process of creating the CPLP Community Development Bank to facilitate financing for bloc projects.
“The bank will be a tool which will support projects of small, medium or large size, thus overcoming the difficulty of access to financing, which often has a high cost in CPLP countries, making projects unfeasible,” Abdula argued.
Abdula further proposed the creation of a CPLP arbitration court, because, despite being united by the same language and economic interests, conflicts between stakeholders from different member states could arise.
“This court would make it easier to settle disputes between businesspeople in the community. At this moment, this project (the CPLP Arbitration Court) is at a very advanced stage. A team was formed that is working hard on the subject and has already produced several document proposals and prepared a questionnaire aimed at defining an ideal model for the construction of such an arbitration court,” Abdula told the gathering.
The opening of the summit coincided with World Portuguese Language Day. According to Rádio Moçambique, there is an estimated 300 million speakers spread across four continents. The first CPLP Business Confederation business summit held under the motto, “Together We Are Stronger and Move the World Forward” in Simpopo, Equatorial Guinea.
Can Sukuk Match the Growth Trajectory of Green Bonds?
As the socially responsible investing movement in fixed income began to take off a decade ago, a great deal of ink was spilled on the similarity of green bonds and Sukuk. Both products are explicitly ethical and appeal to investors’ social consciences over and above their desire for financial returns. The thesis at the time was that an ever-increasing number of investors would seek out these types of ethical investments, leading to a steep upward trajectory in demand for both green bonds and Sukuk. MICHAEL BENNETT writes.
To a certain extent, that thesis has played out. Between 2010 and 2020, the annual issuance of green bonds increased from less than US$5 billion to more than US$270 billion. They have successfully transitioned from being a highly niche product to one that has a role in the portfolios of major institutional investors across the globe. Green bonds became the product that mainstreamed socially responsible investing on the fixed income side of the capital markets.
Sukuk have also increased during that time-period, going from US$53 billion of annual issuance in 2010 to US$140 billion in 2020. While a 164% increase in annual issuance volume is impressive, it clearly lags the 5,300% growth for green bonds. This divergence in the growth trajectory of the two products can also be observed in Chart 1 that looks at annual issuance volumes between 2014 and 2020:
In absolute terms, it should come as no surprise that Sukuk volumes now trail green bonds, as there is a much larger market globally for conventional instruments than for Shariah compliant ones.
Even the most passionate supporters of Islamic finance accept that the potential market for Islamic products is only a fraction of that of their conventional comparators. However, that does not explain why, in percentage growth terms, Sukuk have fallen so far behind green bonds. Why has one product exploded while the other has made only a steady climb?
Many explanations have been offered for why Sukuk have not grown at a faster pace in recent years. These usually focus on global economic hurdles that have impacted the market (eg oil price declines, COVID-19-related slowdowns).
However, many of these same issues have impacted, to one degree or another, the conventional markets as well. In addition, some economic hurdles could reasonably be expected to increase issuance volumes (eg a decrease in oil prices could cause an oil-exporting sovereign to have greater need to tap the capital markets).
Therefore, these explanations seem insufficient to fully explain how green bonds have grown at such a faster clip than Sukuk.
I believe the reason for the difference may stem in part from the fact that the Sukuk market has simply not responded sufficiently to the socially responsible investing movement. As the remarkable growth of the green bond market proves, predictions a decade ago that socially responsible, fixed income investing was about to take off were correct.
In other words, the socially responsible investing wave did indeed come. The problem for Sukuk is the product has not found the best way to ride that wave.
Sukuk are ethical instruments. They cannot be used to finance impermissible activities like gambling, tobacco and weapons manufacturing. Also, they are structured to avoid high degrees of leverage and speculation, and therefore promote a sounder financial system.
Many investors who are motivated by ethics and feelings of social responsibility should be quite happy to add Sukuk to their portfolios, regardless of whether they are adherents of Islam.
A conventional bond has none of these built-in restrictions. Therefore, to make a conventional bond an ‘ethical investment’, additional steps must be taken, for example adding covenants to limit the potential uses of the financing. This building-in of these additional prohibitions is the genesis of green bonds and other labeled sustainable development bonds. In essence, these bonds adopt the types of restrictions on the use of proceeds that already to a certain degree exist for Sukuk.
However, the Sukuk market has not sold the standard Sukuk product as ethical. Rather, it has treated Sukuk as equivalent to a conventional bond (no better or worse from an ethical perspective), and therefore sought to develop green and socially responsible labels for certain types of Sukuk that mimic the labeling that is required to make a conventional bond ethical.
I believe such labeling of certain Sukuk can have the unfortunate impact of obscuring the ethical nature of the basic Sukuk product and, at the extreme, possibly throwing the social responsibility of most Sukuk into doubt.
In other words, if certain Sukuk are labeled ‘socially responsible Sukuk’, what does that imply about all the Sukuk that do not carry that label?
While I certainly would not advocate against green and other types of labeled Sukuk, I think the Sukuk market needs to spend more time and effort to be clear that such labeled Sukuk are simply a special use of proceeds instruments within a broader universe (ie all Sukuk) that is already ethical in nature.
Such an approach would mirror the one the World Bank takes in the conventional market. The World Bank issues green and other labeled bonds from time to time, but the priority always is to stress the ethical nature of all the issuances.
By focusing on the ethical quality of the Sukuk product itself, I believe Sukuk can best benefit from the ethical investing movement, and take its place, aside green bonds, as an ethical investing success story.
US Sanctions Against Russian Sovereign Debt: Possible Alternatives
The US and the EU have imposed new sanctions against Russia because of the so-called “Navalny case”. The European Union has activated the human rights sanctions mechanism approved by the EU Council in December 2020. On March 2, the EU added four Russian security officials to its sanctions list. The sanctions include a ban on entry to the EU, an assets freeze in the EU and a ban on economic transactions with persons involved in the lists. However, such officials are unlikely to have assets in the EU. Even if they exist, such assets are not significant for the Russian economy. The sanctions were introduced as a reaction to the arrest and then imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, while restrictions on the topic of the alleged poisoning were introduced back in October 2020. At the time, six high-ranking Russian officials and the Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technologies were subject to the restrictions. Such sanctions have zero impact on the Russian economy.
Unlike the EU, the US has refrained from imposing sanctions following the alleged poisoning of the politician last year. However, on March 2, they were introduced, both in connection with the poisoning and in connection with his subsequent arrest. That is, the topics of the use of weapons of mass destruction and human rights violations were combined. The blocking sanctions targeted seven Russian officials who were already affected by EU sanctions, as well as three research institutes. Trade sanctions were imposed against 14 companies. US government agencies have been prohibited from lending to Russia and a ban was introduced on the supply of weapons and on the provision of US financial assistance. These measures have no impact on the economy. These companies are not the backbone of the economy, Russia does not need US help, it does not buy weapons from the United States, and it does not take loans from US government agencies.
However, the new US sanctions are still fraught with uncertainty. The key question is whether the United States is imposing restrictions on Russian sovereign debt obligations. Such a measure could cause more serious damage and have an impact on the world markets.
The prospect of sanctions against Russian government bonds is related to the specifics of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991. Properly it is used as a legal basis for the imposition of sanctions in the event that a country uses chemical weapons (in the US and the EU, it is assumed that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group). The CBW Law envisages the imposition of sanctions in two stages. On March 2, 2021, the first stage was implemented (a ban on aid, military supplies and loans from government agencies). If, within three months after the first stage, the President does not provide Congress with evidence that the target country has not abandoned the use of CBW and has not given reliable guarantees of their non-use in the future, then the second stage of sanctions will be introduced. It is important to note here that guarantees of non-use should be determined by UN inspections or those provided by another international organisation. Obviously, Russia will not give such guarantees and will not allow any inspections. Moreover, according to the statements of the Russian authorities, Russian chemical weapons were destroyed long ago. In other words, the second round of sanctions is inevitable. The CBW Law obliges the US President to impose at least three of the six types of sanctions. The most unpleasant of these is the ban on American banks from lending to the Russian government.
There has already been a precedent for using CBW against Russia. The sanctions were imposed in connection with the Skripals case. In 2018, the first stage was carried out, and in 2019 — the second. It was secured by Donald Trump’s executive order No. 13883. The decree reflected two types of sanctions — a ban on lending to the Russian government and blocking aid through the IMF. Then trade restrictions were added. If the last two measures were symbolic, then the ban on lending potentially had more serious consequences. However, this measure was applied in an extremely limited manner. The ban applied only to Russian government bonds denominated in foreign currencies, while most of them are denominated in rubles. The sanctions also did not affect the debt of Russian state-owned companies.
In general, the issue of sanctions against Russia’s sovereign debt has been raised many times on other occasions. In 2017, within the framework of Art. 242 of PL 115-44 CAATSA, Congress ordered the US Treasury to give an opinion on the appropriateness of such sanctions. Officials noted in their report that such sanctions would hurt Russia, but were also fraught with market fluctuations and costs for American investors. Such sanctions have repeatedly been proposed in sanction bills, including the most famous ones — DASKA and DETER. However, they have never been passed into law. In 2019, the State Department criticised DASKA.
The forthcoming second round of sanctions over the Navalny case will again raise the issue of restrictions on Russian sovereign debt. Two alternatives are possible. The first is the preservation of the existing restrictions already adopted by Trump in 2019, or their cosmetic expansion. The second is a more radical tightening, including bonds denominated in rubles. The second alternative cannot be ruled out, especially if there is another escalation in the Navalny case. If the status quo is maintained, the first option is most likely.
From our partner RIAC
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