The Valdai Discussion Club Regional conference titled "New Institutions for Growth in Asia and Eurasia: What Mission for Russia?" was held in Singapore on 13-14 December, 2016. The conference was attended by over 40 representatives of the expert community, public and political figures, business representatives from Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries.
During the first session the participants discussed possible consequences of the deterioration of relations between China and the US for regional development and security. One of the most discussed topics was the policy of the US President-elect Donald Trump, which, according to Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, presumes raising rates in bargaining for a new system of relations with China. Asian participants focused on the need for gradual steps to increase Russia's influence in the region, in particular, attracting Asian investors to the Far East. Speaking about the emerging security system in the region, Mikhail Galuzin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to ASEAN and Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Indonesia, proposed to strengthen cooperation in the ASEAN+8 format, making it the backbone element of the emerging security system.The second session was devoted to problems and prospects of the EAEC-ASEAN free trade area. Sergei Afontsev, Director of the Economics Department, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), stressed that certain obstacles to the development of the FTA are caused by difference between the interests of ASEAN countries, and, secondly, by the nature of the EAEC as the Customs Union. Lee Jae-Young, Vice President of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), called the lack of dominance in the framework of the FTA agreement as an important factor of cooperation. The participants agreed on the need to create a favorable investment climate and conditions for trade development in the region.
During the third session, titled "The Potential of Eurasian Comprehensive Partnership", the experts noted the historical background and processes that demonstrate the need of Russia's turn to the East. Timofei Bordachev, Programme director of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted that despite the historical precedents, the request to strengthen relations with Asian countries is conditioned not by external, but by internal request in Russia, due to the necessity of development of the Far East and globalization. Professor Feng Shaolei, Director of Centre for Russian Studies at East China Normal University, demonstrated the necessity of actively including the United States into the system of the Eurasian Partnership, as it can ensure the mutual stability of development in the United States, Russia and Asian countries. The participants agreed that the process of integration in Eurasia, including Russia and Asian countries, should be based on a fundamentally new system of interaction that takes into account modern realities.
The fourth session titled "Russia’s Exports Potential and Enhancing Economic Ties with Asian Countries", presented not only the views of experts, but also of business representatives. Moriyuki Aida, Executive Officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), highlighted the main aspects of Russia's export potential: agricultural sector, processing industry and healthcare, as well as the importance of the Northern Sea Route. Konstantin Kuzovkov, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Summa Group, believes that Russia can offer Asian investors not only gas, but also space and territory, i.e., enormous potential for the development of agriculture; geographically advantageous position of the Russian Federation; security in the business environment, highly developed defense technology and defense industry. In general, experts agreed on the need to develop all-round cooperation between Russia and countries of the region, establishing mutually beneficial investment climate.
The final discussion of the conference was held in the framework of the special session titled "New Russian Technologies and Asian Markets: Cooperation Prospects", organized in partnership with OJSC "Russian Venture Company" (RVC). According to Alexey Volin, Russian Deputy Minister of Communications and Mass Media, for Asian countries the most promising fields of cooperation with Russia are education and healthcare, high-tech, film and even computer games. Evgeny Kuznetsov, interim CEO of the Russian Venture Company, drew attention to the fact that some of the technology produced in Russia enters the global market immediately, ahead of competitors. In particular, the project "National Technology Initiative" is entering markets of a new scale. Chief Strategic and Operating Officer of Acronis Mark Shmulevich talked about the advantages of building a business in Singapore for Russian high-tech companies.
In conclusion, a press breakfast was organized for journalists, where the results of all five sessions were announced.