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Putin not satisfied with level of economic cooperation with ASEAN

Putin says the current level of investment cooperation with ASEAN is lagging behind the existing potential

SOCHI, May 20. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not satisfied with the level of economic cooperation with the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and has set the goal to boost it.

When speaking at the meeting of leaders of the Association’s countries with participants of the Russia-ASEAN business forum on Friday, Putin said that the common task is to "facilitate rapprochement of the economies, strengthen trade and investment ties and create background for launch of new projects."

"Last year the trade turnover between Russia and ASEAN member-states reached $13.7 bln," he said, adding that "this figure looks rather modest compared with other countries of the Asian-Pacific Region, for example the turnover between ASEAN and China tops $80 bln, and the same about our turnover with China."

"The current level of investment cooperation is also lagging behind the existing potential," President said.

"The total volume of investment is around $11 bln so we all need to think about what should be done to improve the situation and find ways to boost business cooperation," he added.

According to Putin, the meeting with representatives of business circles has become the first item in the official program of the forum, "which demonstrates the fact that we’re putting a priority on the development of economic cooperation between Russia and ‘the ten’."

"It is worth taking into consideration the huge experience of implementation of joint projects that has been accumulated," President said and mentioned companies from Thailand (invest in Russia’s agriculture industry), Vietnam (oil and gas production) and Singapore and Brunei (innovative sector) as examples. He also said that "Russia's business is investing in mineral production in Indonesia and Myanmar, in high technologies in Malaysia, in peaceful atom in Vietnam and has similar plans for Laos."

"We’re convinced that we’re capable of boosting further development of business ties," Putin said and referred to a ‘road map’ prepared by the Russian side, which includes 57 projects on implementation of joint technological and innovative alliances.

The president added the authorities will be doing their utmost for the sake of cooperation between Russian and ASEAN businesses.

"I would like to promise you that we are interested in advancing our relations," he said. "We will be doing as much as we can to support and promote your joint work on the Russian market and on the market of ASEAN countries."

Putin hailed the proposal for expanding cooperation far beyond the state boundaries of Russia and the ASEAN member-states.

"Everything that there is on the positive side in the sphere of integration, everything that will expand our opportunities, and, consequently, our opportunities as representatives of state power will be used to the benefit of economic development and for the good of our countries’ people," Putin said.

"You will have to sum up the results of joint work in the framework of the partnership between Russia and ASEAN since the last meeting in this format in Hanoi in 2010, discuss the most important issues of our cooperation, establish main landmarks for our future cooperation, exchange opinions on pressing international and regional topics," the president added.

"Russia assigns great importance to successfully holding the summit. We hope that our work will be meaningful and effective," Putin said.

"Interaction in energy sector could be raised to a new level," Putin added. 

"ASEAN countries are experiencing growing demand for hydrocarbons and electricity. Russia is ready to meet this growing demand on a long-term basis, supplying energy, it is ready to offer the projects of nuclear power plants of new generation, ready to work in the electricity sector in the broad sense of the word," the Russian leader said.

EAEU-ASEAN free trade zone 

According to the Russian president, it is possible to create a free trade zone between the EAEU and ASEAN.

"I assume it is possible to create a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union and ASEAN in the future," Putin said.

"Its launch could contribute to the formation of the Asian-Pacific free trade zone," he added.

According to Putin, he will discuss the idea with the colleagues in the EAEU - Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

Regional integration associations are playing an increasingly important role in the global economy, the Russian president said, adding that both the EAEU, which also comprises Russia, and the ASEAN see common rules of free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce being created. The EAEU, which represents a huge market with up to 180 mln consumers, operates on the base of the WTO rules, Putin said, adding that Vietnam was the first country to estimate the potential of the Union as it concluded the free trade zone agreement. "Singapore as well as a number of other countries - Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia - are also taking interest," Putin said.

Potential joining of the EAEU, ASEAN, SCO and the Silk Road Economic Belt could also become a promising area of regional economic integration, the Russian president said. "I’m convinced that business circles will continue their active participation in the development of multi-faceted cooperation between Russia and ASEAN," Putin added.