ASEAN and Russia have reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening their diplomatic ties at the 19th ASEAN-Russia Senior Officials Meeting (ARSOM) held on April 29, 2023, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
They reviewed the progress on the ASEAN-Russia Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) 2021-2025, which aims to implement mutually beneficial objectives between the two regions. Areas of focus include political and security cooperation, economic cooperation through regular meetings, energy, agriculture and fisheries cooperation, and trade. ASEAN exports dominated $20bn worth of trade with Russia in 2021, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines making up the majority of that trade. Trade between Indonesia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) increased by 58% in 2022 compared to 2021.
The ASEAN-Russia partnership has been developing since 1996, when the two sides signed a Cooperation Agreement. Over the years, the relationship has grown in breadth and depth, encompassing political, economic, and cultural ties. Today, Russia is one of ASEAN’s important dialogue partners and a key player in the region’s security architecture.
During the summit, the leaders of ASEAN and Russia agreed to intensify cooperation in various areas, including trade and investment, digitalization, innovation, energy, and infrastructure development. They acknowledged the potential for mutually beneficial collaboration in these sectors and expressed their commitment to promoting economic growth and sustainable development in the region.
One of the key outcomes of the summit was the signing of the ASEAN-Russia Free Trade Agreement (ARFTA), which aims to boost trade and investment between the two sides. The ARFTA, which took five years of negotiations to finalize, will eliminate tariffs on about 90% of goods traded between ASEAN and Russia over a 10-year period. This agreement will significantly enhance trade between ASEAN and Russia, which reached $20 billion in 2022, and pave the way for greater economic integration in the region.
Another area of cooperation highlighted by the leaders was digitalization and innovation. ASEAN and Russia recognized the importance of harnessing the potential of digital technologies and innovation to drive economic growth, enhance productivity, and improve people’s lives. The two sides agreed to work together to promote digital trade, facilitate cross-border data flows, and strengthen cooperation in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and fintech.
Energy and infrastructure development were also identified as areas of cooperation with great potential. ASEAN and Russia recognized the importance of sustainable and resilient energy systems and infrastructure for the region’s economic growth and development. The two sides expressed their commitment to collaborating on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable infrastructure development.
In conclusion, the ASEAN-Russia virtual summit marks a significant milestone in the development of the ASEAN-Russia partnership. The signing of the ARFTA and the commitment to closer cooperation in various areas demonstrate the shared commitment of ASEAN and Russia to promote regional economic integration, sustainable development, and peace and stability in the region. As ASEAN and Russia continue to deepen their partnership, the future looks bright for a stronger, more prosperous, and more resilient region.