The Philippines pushes for banking, customs clearance, digital trade, e-commerce, ease of public service delivery in the 17th ASEAN-Russia Senior Officials’ Meeting

Foreign Affairs Acting Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and Association to Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Affairs and Philippine ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Leader Elizabeth P. Buensuceso (third row, second from left) joins ASEAN SOM Leaders in the 17th ARSOM. (Photo credit: Official family photo of ARSOM from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia). I DFA Photo

Pasay City – Foreign Affairs Acting Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and Association to Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Affairs and Philippine ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Leader Elizabeth P. Buensuceso led the discussions on “Cooperation in the Spheres of Economy, Industry, Science and Technology and Smart Cities” during the 17th ASEAN-Russia Senior Officials’ Meeting (ARSOM), participated in by Deputy Foreign Ministers and high representatives of ASEAN Member States and Russia, via video conference on 26 January 2021. Russia was represented by Russian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Igor V. Morgulov.

Undersecretary Buensuceso pushed for core priorities in banking, customs clearance, digital trade and e-commerce, and ease of public service delivery through technology, to contribute towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. She also emphasized the need to enhance digital infrastructure for efficient public service delivery and highlighted the importance of strengthening digital services in the banking industry and enhancing the banking sector by improving infrastructure and platforms that provide better interoperability and integration, as well as safe and efficient digital transactions.

As the inaugural chair of the ASEAN Technical Vocation and Education (TVET) Council, the Philippines encouraged Russia to consider collaborating with the Council to improve labor capacities and put in place a robust mechanism to mitigate job-related economic challenges, should another pandemic occur in the future. The Philippines also emphasized the importance of promoting the use of science, technology and innovation, digital economy, and providing mechanisms to facilitate customs clearance and processing to allow businesses, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to continue operations amidst the economic challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic as central to ASEAN’s comprehensive recovery efforts.

ASEAN Member States invited Russia to support ASEAN’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, by contributing to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.  The Meeting also noted ASEAN and Russia’s continued cooperation in counter-terrorism and transnational crime, as well as Russia’s commitment to upholding an ASEAN-centered regional security architecture. The Meeting agreed to extend the validity of the current ASEAN-Russia Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) until its successor document is finalized. The Meeting also took note of various cooperation initiatives between ASEAN and Russia in the socio-cultural pillar, the promotion of people-to-people exchanges through the recently-concluded Network of ASEAN-Russia Think Tanks (NARTT), disaster risk reduction and management, sustainable development through digital innovation, connectivity, and the promotion of smart cities.

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