_ EEC. Singapore, 14 November 2018.
On November 14, the Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Tigran Sargsyan and the Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Lim Jock Hoi signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the EEC and ASEAN in Singapore. The Memorandum was signed in the presence of the Association’s leaders and Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation and Chairman of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.
The EEC Memorandum with ASEAN lays the foundation for the formation of a dialogue platform aimed at discussing a wide range of issues related to the interaction of integration blocks on the scale of the entire Eurasian continent.
“The conclusion of this Memorandum will contribute to the comprehensive expansion of trade, economic and investment cooperation between the EAEU Member States and the ASEAN participating countries,” – Tigran Sargsyan told mass media reporters during the press scrum after the signing ceremony.
The parties will cooperate in such areas as customs regulation and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical regulation, e-commerce, trade in services and investments as well as business development. First of all, it will provide a favorable environment for the development of sustainable interaction at the level of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
The meeting of the Chairman of the EEC Board Tigran Sargsyan and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore Li Xian Long was held on the sidelines of the forum. The parties noted the progress in the negotiation process on the conclusion of a Free Trade Area Agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and Singapore. In their view, by concluding this document they can stimulate some increase in their mutual turnover, investments as well as the exchange of investments and technologies.
The EEC and the ASEAN Secretariat have been cooperating at the level of heads of organizations since 2014. The Free Trade Area Agreement between the EAEU and Vietnam has been effective since 2016. It bears reminding that the prospects of the FTA Agreement with Singapore had been discussed in May 2016 during the meeting of the Chairman of the EEC Board Tigran Sargsyan and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore Li Xian Long, following which the interest in developing this track was noted. At the same time, the Memorandum of Understanding between the EEC and the Government of the Republic of Singapore was signed.
The ASEAN Member States are Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Philippines.
On November 15, in Singapore, the Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Tigran Sargsyan and the Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Lim Jock Hoi discussed the prospects for cooperation in respect of the Memorandum of Understanding between the EEC and ASEAN signed the day before. The parties agreed to establish stable ties between the EEC and ASEAN Headquarters in order to discuss and implement cooperation plans and projects as promptly and efficiently as possible.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the EEC and ASEAN concluded on November 14 formalized the relations between two integration blocs. “Thanks to the Memorandum we’ve created a favorable environment for increasing cooperation,” – Tigran Sargsyan emphasized. –“We hope that this document will be instrumental not only in establishing a steady dialogue between the EEC and the ASEAN Secretariat, but it will also form a confidential atmosphere to support the EAEU bilateral tracks with the Association’s individual Member States as well as the interaction of our countries’ business circles.”
The EEC interaction with the Association was launched during the meeting of the Chairman of the EEC Board and the Association’s Head at the Russia-ASEAN Summit in May 2016 in Sochi. “Since then the prospects for establishing a dialogue between two associations have been actively discussed,” – Tigran Sargsyan stated.
Lim Jock Hoi noted, in return, the importance of the signed Memorandum and expressed confidence that the EEC and the ASEAN Secretariat would productively cooperate. “The presence of the President of the Russian Federation and the leaders of the ASEAN countries during the signing of the Memorandum shows how important this step was,” – the ASEAN Secretary General believes. He also said that the EAEU and the EEC’s experience was very important for the Association as the Eurasian integration included such promising directions for ASEAN as trade and customs regulation. “We follow the EAEU, know the integration structure and are glad that integration makes much headway and covers broad areas,” – he concluded. The interest in cooperation between the EAEU and ASEAN is also confirmed by the business community’s requests, which was demonstrated by the results of the first business dialogue held at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in May 2018. In this regard, the Member of the Board – Minister in charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the EEC Tatyana Valovaya present at the meeting proposed to organize a separate event within the framework of the upcoming forum in St. Petersburg in June 2019. The parties confirmed their intention to develop trade, economic and investment cooperation between the EAEU States and the ASEAN participating countries and agreed to form a cooperation program.
ASEAN is an important trade partner of the EAEU. By the end of 2017, the ASEAN countries ranked eighth in terms of trade turnover with the EAEU States, sixth in terms of exports and tenth in terms of imports. In 2017, the trade turnover between the EAEU and the ASEAN countries reached 20.1 bln US dollars. In January-August 2018, the increase in trade amounted to 15.9%, thus reaching 13.3 bln US dollars. Vietnam is the leading trade partner of the EAEU in ASEAN (29.6% of trade turnover in 2017) 23.0% were accounted for Singapore, while 17.5% – for Indonesia, 12.3% – for Malaysia, and 12.2% – for Thailand. The leading buyer of the EAEU goods in ASEAN is Singapore: about 41% of all imports of the economic bloc were accounted for this country. Vietnam takes second place with 27.1%. Vietnam (31.3% of the EAEU imports from the economic association) and Indonesia (with 22%, respectively) have become the main suppliers of goods from ASEAN to the Union countries. The following goods are exported from the EAEU to ASEAN: mineral commodities (worth 4.2 bln US dollars), chemicals (0.9 bln US dollars), metals and articles made therefrom (0.8 bln US dollars) as well as food products and agricultural raw materials (0.7 bln US dollars). The ASEAN countries imported machinery and equipment for 6.4 bln US dollars, food products and agricultural raw materials – for 1.9 bln US dollars, textiles, textile products and footwear – for 1.2 bln US dollars and chemicals – for 1.1 bln US dollars. The Free Trade Area Agreement between the EAEU and Vietnam has been effective since 2016. Nowadays, the conclusion of such an agreement with Singapore in order to stimulate mutual trade, exchange of investments and technologies is being actively negotiated. It bears reminding that the prospects of the FTA Agreement with Singapore had been discussed in May 2016 during the meeting of the Chairman of the EEC Board Tigran Sargsyan and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore Li Xian Long, following which the interest in developing this track was noted. At the same time, the Memorandum of Understanding between the EEC and the Government of the Republic of Singapore was signed.