Russia and ASEAN take first step to create EEU-ASEAN free trade zone

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Ministers of Economy and Trade of Russia and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to develop a feasibility study for creation of a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union and ASEAN, Russian Minister of Economic Development Aleksey Ulyukayev told journalists on August 5, Novosti-Kazakhstan reported.

“We have agreed on launching a feasibility study of the possibility of creation of a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union and ASEAN. The political will to do it was announced at the ASEAN-Russia summit in Sochi,” Ulyukayev said.    

He added that such free trade zone may be created within two-three years. “The feasibility study would take approximately a year and then negotiations would start. But given that there is the interest of many countries here, negotiations would last some time. I think, two-three years.”    

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual ASEAN high-level events in Vientiane, Laos on July 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about prospects of holding negotiations between the Eurasian Economic Union and ASEAN.

“We are also making progress in cooperation between the ASEAN countries and the Eurasian Economic Union after Vietnam signed a Free Trade Area Agreement [with the EEU]. Singapore, Cambodia and a number of other Southeast Asian countries have shown an interest in it also,” Lavrov said.

At the ASEAN-Russia summit in Sochi earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward the initiative to create a broad Eurasian Economic partnership with the participation of the EEU, the SCO and the ASEAN countries while leaving the doors open for other interested parties.

Established in 1967, the ASEAN now includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Cambodia.

The Eurasian Economic Union is an economic cooperation bloc consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.

Sergey Kwan

TCA