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Dear ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, friends!

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of consolidating efforts in the face of global challenges. The key instrumental role in this belongs to international associations, primarily those that focus on the agenda of practical cooperation. We believe that the Asia-Europe Forum (ASEM) should be at the forefront of such multilateral processes. The development of partnerships between the two parts of Greater Eurasia opens up good opportunities for building up broad applied cooperation between them.

Due to the ongoing outbreaks of the new coronavirus infection, the recovery processes in the world are uneven and unstable. In the current conditions, the general priority task remains the mass immunization of the world’s population. This can only be achieved through multilateral cooperation on a depoliticized, equal and transparent basis.

Serious threats to the long-term confident recovery of the world economy are posed by the multiplying trade contradictions against the backdrop of escalating geopolitical tensions.

Only collective efforts can prevent the development of events according to a negative scenario, fraught with the destruction of the integrity of the framework of global economic ties. One of the points of their application is the strengthening of the multilateral economic system through the restoration of the operational capacity of the World Trade Organization. Here we need to work out a unifying agenda and look for reasonable compromise solutions. For Russia, which accounts for more than 70% of foreign trade turnover in the ASEM countries, this is an unconditional priority.

Another important vector of cooperation is food security. Even in the current emergency conditions, we continue to work to build sustainable food systems and strengthen the agricultural potential of other countries. The share of ASEM partners in the Russian trade in goods of the corresponding nomenclature exceeds two-thirds. This indicator is steadily moving up: from January to September of this year, trade in the agricultural sector increased by 16.5% compared to the same period in 2020 and amounted to $ 21 billion.

Russia is an active participant in global efforts to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change. We are consistently implementing a policy to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy system of Russia is one of the most diversified and environmentally friendly in the world: the share of generated energy from nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants, wind and solar power plants is already approaching 40%. We attach great importance to strengthening energy security throughout Eurasia.

The global transport and logistics system is seriously affected by COVID-19. Helping out are the overland supply chain routes between Asia and Europe via Russia. The volume of rail traffic has significantly increased: over the nine months of 2021, more than 568 thousand containers were delivered by rail from China to Europe and back alone in the first nine months of 2021 – a 47% increase compared to the same period in 2020. Transit through our territory is becoming more and more convenient, fast and safe due to the introduction of seamless and multimodality technologies.

The interconnectedness that we are building in the ASEM space today cannot be imagined without digital technology. Russia is one of the flagships of digitalization processes in various fields: from public services to e-commerce. We pay special attention to the implementation of artificial intelligence – a strategic resource that can improve various segments of people’s lives. We see good prospects for cooperation in this area through the business circles of Asia and Europe. Large cities are key drivers of digital transformation. Moscow this year – for the second time since 2017 – entered the top 7 smart cities in the world.

It is necessary to continue the search for effective solutions in the field of urban construction. We have not yet had a focus conversation on this topic at the ASEM site. Our idea is to hold a round table to exchange relevant experience and technologies. His concept was sent to all partners in the forum. We count on support.

There are serious reserves for deepening customs cooperation. There are many tasks before us here. This applies to both the simplification of customs procedures and the regulation of electronic commerce. You can work in specialized, specific areas. In particular, the FCS of Russia proposes to establish closer cooperation to control the illegal cross-border movement of tobacco products. The topic is interesting and promising.

We use the available resources to deepen cooperation in the field of education. Against the background of the restrictions associated with the pandemic, the STIpot Internet platform for supporting academic mobility, created in the framework of ASEM at the initiative of Russia in 2019, is becoming more and more popular. It promotes the establishment of direct links between teachers, students, scientists, the implementation of joint research programs. Our other idea is to hold in Russia the next meeting of the ASEM expert group on interregional credit transfer mechanisms and learning outcomes systems.

Volunteering plays an important role in overcoming the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. In many countries of the world, it has acquired a noticeable scale. In Russia, the number of participants in volunteer movements is several hundred thousand people, and the number of people they have helped is in the millions. We try to encourage this good deed in every possible way. Last year, we spoke at the ASEM platform with an initiative to establish contacts between volunteer organizations in Asia and Europe. We have ideas for creating an international school for volunteers and launching a competition for volunteer projects. In December, we are holding a major humanitarian event – the We Are Together International Award, which is designed to recognize the achievements of civil society in responding to epidemic risks. We are glad that the Asia-Europe Foundation has become our partner in this endeavor.

Dear Colleagues!

Russia has always been and remains a constructive and responsible participant in the ASEM process, advocating the development of positive non-politicized cooperation through the strengthening of various aspects of interconnectedness on our common continent. Only together can we effectively confront the new waves of the pandemic and successfully move along the path of recovery, entering a sustainable trajectory of dynamic inclusive growth.

Thank you for attention.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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