Enhancing trade and investment between Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is one way to “build back better” after the pandemic.
This was the Philippines’ position relayed by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asean Daniel Espiritu during the 18th Asean-Russia Senior Officials’ Meeting (ARSOM) on May 23, which centered on the two partners’ economic cooperation.
In the virtual meeting, Espiritu highlighted the importance of implementing the Asean-Russia Trade and Investment Cooperation Roadmap and Work Program 2021-2025 as well as the need for Asean societies to keep up with the rapid changes in digitalization.
He then relayed Manila’s view that “Russia as a Dialogue Partner should maintain its standing and representation in Asean meetings.”
“But we continue to reiterate to all of our external partners that no one should be allowed to disrupt or derail Asean-led activities, exclude any partner from them, or to destroy the Asean process. Member inclusivity, and more importantly, Asean centrality should be maintained,” he said.
Aside from economic ties, the Russia-ASEAN talks also covered the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Among others, Asean and Russian senior officials “discussed and reviewed ongoing cooperation and the future direction of Asean-Russia dialogue relations” on political-security, economic, and socio-cultural pillars.
According to the DFA, Russia will participate in the Asean Post-Ministerial Conference Session with Dialogue Partners in Phnom Penh in August 2022.
Espiritu, in his capacity as the Director-General of the Asean-Philippines National Secretariat, represented Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Maria Theresa Lazaro in the 18th ARSOM.
The meeting was co-chaired by Cambodian Secretary of State and SOM Leader Eat Sophea, and Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and SOM Leader Igor Morgulov.
Russia was elevated as Asean’s full dialogue partner in July 1996 and had since been participating in a series of consultative meetings with the bloc.
These include ministerial meetings, senior officials’ meetings as well as the Asean Regional Forum, the Post Ministerial Conferences Plus One, Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus, and the East Asia Summit. (PNA)