The Sochi Declaration titled “Moving Towards a Strategic Partnership for Mutual Benefit” and a Comprehensive Plan of Action to Promote Cooperation Between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Russian Federation in 2016-2020 were approved following the ASEAN – Russia Commemorative Summit, which was held in Sochi on 19-20 May 2016 to mark 20 years of ASEAN – Russia Dialogue Partnership.
The declaration consists of several sections, including – “Political and Security Cooperation”, “. ECONOMIC COOPERATION”, “Socio-Cultural Cooperation”, “Cooperation on Narrowing the Development Gap and Connectivity”, as well as a section on the implementation mechanism for the document.
Heads of delegations also presented a Report of the ASEAN-Russia Eminent Persons Group, containing a number of recommendations for strengthening cooperation in various fields.
“This Comprehensive Plan of Action lays out priorities and measures to be undertaken by both sides to further deepen and enhance their political-security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation as well as to realise the full potential of the ASEAN-Russia partnership in all areas of common interest, taking into account ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together and its Blueprints, as well as the results of the implementation of the Comprehensive Programme of Action to Promote Cooperation between ASEAN and Russia 2005-2015,” the declaration said.
The countries that signed the declaration charged the relevant government bodies in Russia and ASEAN Member States to implement it “through the appropriate funding support by the governments”, “regularly review the progress of implementation”, and “submit progress reports on the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan of Action to the annual PMC + 1 Session with the Russian Federation.”
Plan for cooperation in 2016-2020
The comprehensive plan of measures to develop further cooperation in 2016-2020 consists of five main parts and 142 points, which describe in detail the areas of cooperation and steps necessary for developing it.
“This Comprehensive Plan of Action will work towards mutually beneficial objectives in the next five years (2016-2020), building upon the strong cooperation between ASEAN and the Russian Federation since 1996,” the document said.
“This Comprehensive Plan of Action lays out priorities and measures to be undertaken by both sides to further deepen and enhance their political-security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation as well as to realise the full potential of the ASEAN-Russia partnership in all areas of common interest, taking into account ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together and its Blueprints, as well as the results of the implementation of the Comprehensive Programme of Action to Promote Cooperation between ASEAN and Russia 2005-2015,” the document went on to say.
“This Comprehensive Plan of Action recognizes the importance of the promotion and protection of human rights, including through practical steps, exchange of best practices and closer cooperation, particularly in international fora,” the document’s plan said.
The plan’s section concerning political and security cooperation concerns not only political contacts within the framework of international organizations, including the United Nations, but to a large extent, joint efforts in counteract terrorism and transnational crime.
The economic bloc of cooperation includes steps to develop interaction in such spheres as trade, investments, finance, energy, industry and mineral resources, transport as well as tourism.
Special attention is paid to socio-cultural cooperation. The steps enshrined in these sections cover physical culture and sports.
Another block of issues is devoted to cooperation on narrowing the development gap and connectivity and ensuring interrelationship within ASEAN and partnership with Russia.
Russia and ASEAN will regularly review the progress of implementation of the Plan of Action through the existing mechanisms of the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Relations and submit progress reports on the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan of Action to the annual PMC+1 Session with the Russian Federation.
ASEAN to consider launching free trade area with Eurasian Economic Union
According to the declaration, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will consider Russia’s proposal to launch a free trade area with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
ASEAN will consider Russia’s initiative “to launch a joint feasibility study of a comprehensive free trade area between ASEAN and EAEU.”
Also, the document outlines the intention to “explore the possibility of mutually beneficial cooperation among ASEAN, EAEU and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The countries of ASEAN and Russia will “encourage sustainable and inclusive economic growth, as well as establishment of a more representative system of international economic management with a view to respond constructively to the global and regional economic and financial challenge.” They will also “encourage the reform of the international financial system, taking into account the interests and increasing influence of developing countries and emerging economies,” as well as “support the development of multilateral trade rules ensuring the equal rights and opportunities as well as prosperity and welfare for all.”
The declaration also outlines the need to “promote regional economic cooperation through regular consultations within existing mechanisms aimed at promoting trade and investment, including promoting an open and non-discriminatory market in the Asia-Pacific region, taking into account the interests of each and every economy.”
According to the document, the countries that adopted the declaration will endeavor to increase substantially the volume of trade between ASEAN member-states and Russia. Particularly, they will encourage transport cooperation in areas such as maritime, road and rail transport infrastructure networks and civil aviation, including through capacity building and exchange of best practices; explore cooperation in the area of electronic commerce with the objective of increasing mutual trade and investment.
Russia and ASEAN countries will also strengthen cooperation in such areas as oil and gas, electric power, energy efficiency, civilian nuclear energy, and renewable energy to enhance energy security; promote cooperation in agriculture, ensuring national and regional food security, as well as the expansion of trade and investments in healthy and ecologically clean food products; promote responsible fishing practices and address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. They have also agreed on scientific and technological cooperation, investment cooperation as well as expansion of financing of joint infrastructure projects.