Daniele Ganser


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Meeting with representatives of the Russia-ASEAN Business Forum -- Sochi -- May 20, 2016

Meeting with representatives of the Russia-ASEAN Business Forum. Photo:

Meeting with representatives of the Russia-ASEAN Business Forum
Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of heads of delegations at the Russia-ASEAN summit with Business Forum representatives.
May 20, 2016

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: 

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues, heads of state and government, it is a pleasure to welcome you all.

The official part of the summit’s programme is beginning now and it is not by chance that the first event is this meeting with business community representatives from Russia and the ASEAN countries. This highlights yet further the priority we place on developing trade and economic cooperation between Russia and the ASEAN countries.

Our common task is to bring our economies closer together, strengthen trade and investment ties, and create the conditions needed for launching new projects. We are working in close dialogue with the business community on this and will continue to do so.

I note that trade between Russia and the ASEAN countries came to $13.7 billion last year. This is quite a modest figure compared to trade with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The ASEAN countries’ trade with China comes to $80 billion, for example, and Russia’s bilateral trade with China comes to a similar figure.

The current level of investment cooperation also falls short of our potential. We have total investment of around $11 billion. It is therefore important to reflect together on what we can do to improve this situation and outline a consistent road forward for developing our business cooperation.

We should not forget that we have accumulated considerable experience in carrying out bilateral joint projects. Thai companies are investing in Russia’s agricultural sector, for example, Vietnamese companies in oil and gas production, and companies from Singapore and Brunei have been investing in innovation.

Russian business has been investing in mining ventures in Indonesia and Myanmar. We are working in peaceful nuclear energy development in Vietnam and plan to do the same in Laos, and are investing in the high-tech sector in Malaysia, to name a few examples.

I am sure that we have all we need to give a new boost to our business ties. Russia has drawn up a roadmap that encompasses 57 concrete projects aimed at establishing joint technology and innovation alliances.

We can boost our fuel and energy cooperation to next level. ASEAN countries’ needs for hydrocarbon resources as well as electricity are growing. Russia can satisfy this growing demand by supplying energy on a long-term basis. We can offer our partners new-generation nuclear power plant projects. We are willing to cooperate in the sphere of power generation in the broad meaning of the word.

Our cooperation in transportation looks promising. Russian businesses are interested in participating in modern railway construction projects, which we are already doing in Indonesia, where a $1.9 billion railway project is currently being implemented in Kalimantan.

Modern satellite navigation systems are the call of the times. We suggest doing this on the basis of the Russian GLONASS satellite navigation system.

Russia is also willing to join any development initiative in ASEAN. I am referring above all to our assistance in the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which stipulates the development of energy, transportation and information infrastructure in the region.

At the same time, we invite ASEAN businesses to take part in our priority development programmes in the Russian Far East. We have created 12 areas with a favourable business environment and the free port of Vladivostok. In addition, we are modernising the Trans-Siberian Railway, a large railway system connecting European Russia with the Far East and, by default, with Asia. We have launched a large-scale programme for the development of the Northern Sea Route, which is the shortest commercial route from Asia to Europe.

We have been working to create the most attractive conditions for doing business, cutting red tape, lowering the tax burden and monitoring the investment climate in Russia’s constituent entities. This helped us move up from 120th to 51st place on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index last year.

I would like to say that our economy has remained stable in an unfavourable external situation. In this connection, I want to say that the Government’s anti-crisis measures have helped stabilise the key sectors of our economy and our financial market.

We have also maintained a low unemployment level (less than 6 percent), moderate foreign debt, which is one of the lowest in the world, and a trade balance surplus of $160 billion in 2015.

The Bank of Russia’s decision to introduce a flexible ruble rate has allowed our economy to adjust to new conditions and to maintain a high level of gold and currency reserves, which totalled about $391.5 billion as of May 1. As a result, we reached the bottom of the crisis in 2015, something the experts agree on.

May 19, 2016

Colleagues, the role of regional integration associations in the global economy has been increasing. The Eurasian Economic Union, where Russia is a member, and ASEAN have created common rules for the free movement of goods, services, capital and manpower.

The Eurasian Economic Union’s regulations are based on the World Trade Organisation’s rules. The EAEU is a huge market with 180 million consumers, a market that has been duly assessed by our Vietnamese friends with whom we have signed a free trade area agreement. Interest in this cooperation has also been shown by Singapore, with whose Prime Minister we discussed this issue yesterday, as well as by other ASEAN countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.

I believe we can eventually create a common free trade zone between the EAEU and ASEAN. This could be our contribution to the development of an Asia-Pacific free trade zone. Of course, we will discuss this idea with our EAEU colleagues, in particular Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

Another promising sphere of regional economic integration could be the coordination of the EAEU, ASEAN, the SCO and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project.

I am convinced that our business communities will continue to contribute to the development of multifaceted Russia-ASEAN economic cooperation. In this connection I would like to invite everyone here to the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which will be held on June 16–18, and also to the Eastern Economic Forum, which Vladivostok will host on September 2–3.

Colleagues, thank you for your attention. I hope you establish interesting contacts, ones that will be beneficial and useful for the development of your businesses.

Thank you for your attention. I am happy to pass the floor to Prime Minister of Laos Mr Sisoulith, current chair of ASEAN and coordinator of the Russia-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: 

Friends, colleagues,

We have gathered here today to mark the 20th anniversary of the Russia-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership. We have 20 years of cooperation behind us. Still, we all remember that Russia and many ASEAN countries have much deeper ties that go back to the more distant past. This is a very good framework for developing relations on a modern footing.

We are also very enthusiastic about our partnership with other member states, with which neither the Soviet Union nor Russia perhaps has ever had close relations before.

Let me assure you that we have an interest in improving our relations and will do whatever is necessary – I am now mainly addressing the business community – to create conditions for our cooperation both in Russian and ASEAN markets.

I cannot but support the representatives of businesses who spoke before me in saying that (and I mentioned it in my opening remarks), certainly, we must think about expanding our partnership and must not limit ourselves to the state borders of Russia and ASEAN. We must consider global events and what is happening in the Asia-Pacific. All the positive aspects of integration that are capable of expanding your business opportunities – which, in turn, means the expansion of opportunities for us as representatives of the state – will be employed to benefit economic development and, therefore, the citizens of our governments.

I wish you success and thank you for your cooperation at this meeting. 

Thank you very much.

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