Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong in Sochi.Grigoriy Sisoev/RIA Novosti
In 2016, it became evident that Moscow clearly favors building trade alliances with ASEAN countries. Talks on a potential trade agreement between Russia (as a part of the Eurasian Economic Union or EAEU) and ASEAN countries were given additional impetus at the Russia-ASEAN summit in May 2016 in Sochi , where Vladimir Putin proposed to consider the establishment of a free trade agreement (FTA) with ASEAN.
However, it is now clear that Russia and the EAEU have chosen to focus on bilateral agreements with ASEAN countries and not on a large EAEU-ASEAN agreement, which would be much more difficult to achieve.
There is already some visible progress in this direction. In October 2016, the EAEU-Vietnam free trade agreement came into effect. The same month, the EAEU and Singapore launched a feasibility study for an FTA, which, according to EAEU Trade Minister Veronika Nikishina, will put a greater emphasis on services than on goods.
In addition to trade and services, the most important area of cooperation with ASEAN countries is knowledge and expertise sharing.
Russia already has some experience in this area. Singapore has provided advice on the process of creating special economic zones to help strengthen regional development.
In addition, high-ranking representatives of the Russian government have regularly visited Singapore to study the country's experience in public administration, including in its fight against corruption.
Russia and ASEAN should promote academic exchanges. Moscow should also focus on integrating leading Russian educational institutions with their counterparts in ASEAN.
It is also necessary to establish closer cooperation with ASEAN in finance. This includes attracting specialists from Southeast Asian countries to help develop financial infrastructure in Russia.
Yaroslav Lissovolik is Chief Economist of the Eurasian Development Bank, and Professor of International Economics at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He will take part in Valdai club’s conference in Singapore.
Views expressed are personal.
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