The incoming members of the East Asia Summit (EAS) – Russia and the United States – who will mark their entry into the grouping during the 6th East Asia Summit in November, have maintained their strong economic relations with ASEAN.

During the AEM-Russia Informal Consultations on 11 August which was co-chaired by H.E. Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, Indonesia’s Trade Minister and also this year’s AEM Chair and H.E. Andrey Aleksandrovich Slepnev, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development, the Ministers said that they hoped that such Consultations will become a permanent feature of the ASEAN-Russia cooperation.

In relation to their admission into the EAS, the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) welcomed Russia’s intention to be involved in all sectoral mechanisms under the EAS, which include the Economic Ministers’ Consultations.

Russia will also chair APEC next year. Given the mutually reinforcing roles that ASEAN and APEC play in the evolving regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, the Ministers looked forward to its Chairmanship.

They also underscored the importance of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a multilateral trading system and committed that they will work together towards the timely conclusion of the Doha Round, and for one that includes an ambitious and balanced outcome. They also support the WTO accession of Russia by the end of the year (and of Lao PDR as soon as possible).

Meanwhile, during the Informal Consultations between the AEM and the representative of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on the same day, the AEM and USTR noted that trade between ASEAN and the US remained strong.

The United States and ASEAN remain each other’s fourth largest trading partners. Total trade between ASEAN and the US showed a sharp rebound last year, recording an increase of 24.4 per cent, up from US$149.6 billion in 2009 to US$186.1 billion last year. Imports from the US grew by 27 per cent to US$85.6 billion, while exports increased 22.3 per cent to US$100.5 billion last year.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) from the US also more than doubled last year. FDI flow from the US surged from US$4.1 billion in 2009 to US$8.4 billion last year, securing US as the third largest investor in ASEAN.

The AEM and USTR noted the priority areas in APEC under the US’s Chairmanship this year. They also reaffirmed that the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) continues to be a priority for both ASEAN and the United States.

The AEM-USTR Consultations was co-chaired by Minister Mari and Hon. Demetrios Marantis, Deputy Trade Representative of the United States of America.

Both Russia and the US will be admitted as new members of the EAS at the 19th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits scheduled to take place in Bali, Indonesia in November.

The AEM also held a collective consultation with participating EAS countries on 13 August.