SINGAPORE: ASEAN and Russia can further strengthen ties by deepening trade and investment links, and also by exploring cooperation in digital technology, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday (Nov 14).
Mr Lee was speaking at the 3rd ASEAN-Russia Summit.
In the first area, Mr Lee noted that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) should enhance trade connections. The EEC is the executive, decision-implementing body of the Eurasian Economic Union, which has five member states, including Russia.
In the field of digital technology, Mr Lee mentioned the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) – a key initiative of Singapore’s ASEAN chairmanship – which will drive regional smart city development.
“I hope that Russia will continue to support the ASCN, and develop meaningful partnerships with ASEAN cities to improve the lives of our peoples,” he said.
Mr Lee highlighted in his opening statement that there has been much progress in the ASEAN-Russia partnership since the last time the leaders met in 2016. He added that Wednesday’s Summit was “timely”, as it gives both sides an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to further strengthen ASEAN-Russia ties.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that over the last two years, ASEAN and Russia have “managed to do a lot".
“We have coordinated our approaches to key issues in the Asia-Pacific, to the challenges and threats, to regional stability,” he said in his opening statement, adding that the two sides are forging cooperation in fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime.
He also pointed to the improving economic ties between both sides. In 2017, trade between Russia and ASEAN increased by 35 per cent, he said.
Mr Putin also acknowledged that the signing of the MOU between ASEAN and EEC is an “important step” in the direction of fostering a regular dialogue between the two parties.
During the meeting, parties adopted the Joint Statement of the 3rd ASEAN-Russian Federation Summit on Strategic Partnership, and the Statement of ASEAN and the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the field of Security of and in the Use of Information and Communication Technologies.