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MOSCOW, May 11. /TASS/. Economy remains a promising sphere of cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Russia, the Ambassador of the Philippines to Russia Carlos Sorreta told TASS on Wednesday ahead of the Russia-ASEAN summit that will take place on May 19-20 in Sochi.
"Russia would do very well to take advantage of the economic dynamism of ASEAN and this should extend beyond the exportation of crude oil - Russia’s current economic footprint in the region is not as substantial as those of similar-sized powers," Soretta said.
"Economic relations, as a whole, remains a very promising area of cooperation between ASEAN and Russia. Not only with regard to trade in goods but also services and two-way investments," he went on. "ASEAN companies, on the other hand, are already expanding beyond the region and are continuously looking for opportunities. Some can be found in Russia especially since the economy is expected to recover in the next couple of years," he noted.
The ambassador said another area with great potential is people-to-people exchanges. "This is very important because of its ability to influence other spheres such as political and economic cooperation. The more our people interact with each other, the more that companies from both sides will be inclined to do business and this will certainly encourage our governments to work together on the ‘hard’ issues," he noted.
"Tourism is already on an upward trend. This can be complemented by greater exchanges in education, science and technology as well as culture and the arts. Russia is a technological and cultural powerhouse while ASEAN is extremely diverse and dynamic," Soretta said.
"There is so much that our peoples can learn from one another and our friendship will certainly be stronger if we explore this area further," the diplomat concluded.
According to the diplomat, the Philippines are pleased with Russia’s partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and expect trade turnover to continue growing.
"ASEAN has developed into a fulcrum for substantive discussions of issues affecting the entire Asia-Pacific Region and Russia has been a productive partner in this regard. We have made significant gains in all three spheres of cooperation - politico-security, economic and socio-cultural," Soretta said.
"The Philippines, as well as the other member states, have been pleased with the ASEAN-Russia dialogue partnership," he noted.
"In the politico-security sphere, ASEAN-Russia cooperation is undertaken within the Comprehensive Programs of Action (CPA) and the resulting roadmaps which allow us to plot our areas of priorities in a systematic and consultative manner," the ambassador went on. "We have also established the ASEAN-Russia Eminent Persons Group (AREPG), which I am a part of, that gives policy guidance to these discussions," he said.
"In terms of economic cooperation, the volume of trade between ASEAN and Russia has broken the $20 billion barrier and we expect this to grow further. We believe the current figures do not reflect the true potential of our commercial partnership. There is still a lot of work to be done in expanding and balancing our trade relationship. This can be accomplished through continuing dialogue via the ASEAN-Russia Economic Ministers Consultations and the implementation of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Roadmap," Soretta said.
The diplomat said the socio-cultural partnership between ASEAN and Russia has also been very productive. "We can certainly reach 3 million Russian visitors to ASEAN in the coming years and this contributes immensely to our understanding of one another. The establishment of the ASEAN Center at the Moscow State University as well as the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership Fund also helped a huge deal in this respect," he noted.
The Russia-ASEAN summit will be held in Sochi on May 19-20 and will become the biggest international event in Russia in 2016. The summit will be held under the slogan "Towards Strategic Partnership for the Sake of the Common Good."
The summit is expected to adopt a declaration that will lay the basis for an action plan of Russia-ASEAN cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres, as well as in the sphere of security.
Russia has been a dialog partner of ASEAN since July 1996. Similar partnership summits are normally held on the territory of member-states and the choice of Sochi as venue for the Russia-ASEAN summit on the partnership’s 20th anniversary is symbolic.