Dmitry Medvedev attends the Business and Investment Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The discussion focused on Russia-ASEAN: Development of connectivity in the Eurasian space in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Dmitry Medvedev's remarks at 2019 ASEAN Business and Investment Summit:

Dmitry Medvedev speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2019

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am grateful for the opportunity to address the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and present our vision for the regional and global economy's development amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution to all those present here – businessmen, politicians and experts of the countries of Asia-Pacific region.

 We are witnessing the development of a fundamentally new economic order, with digitisation rapidly infiltrating our lives. And this digital future is very close.

 Just like other countries, Russia is seeking ways to adapt to new economic realities. On the digital world map, Russia ranks 7th in terms of human involvement in the digital economy. As regards the number of smartphone users, our country ranks 5th – in fact, we rank 5th in terms of gadget use.

 We are taking active efforts to develop our communication infrastructure. Over 85 percent of Russian citizens take advantage of opportunities provided by the mobile web; some 70 percent of them use it daily. Our unlimited internet access rates are affordable as compared to other developed countries: it is nine times cheaper than in Japan, 14 times cheaper than in the US, and 17 times cheaper than in the Republic of Korea.

Our main aim is to create technologies that would benefit the people, make their lives more comfortable and save their time. And this is what our efforts are aimed at. Russia boasts strong schools in mathematics, physics, and information technologies. Russian professionals are in high demand among such information and IT giants as Google, Apple and Huawei – and, of course, this brings certain results as well.

On the other hand, we have matters to attend to, just like other nations. And this is what we keep doing with the Digital Economy national programme in effect since 2017. Our business circles are engaged in its implementation. We are removing digital inequality among the different parts of our country. You know that Russia is an enormous country, with the world’s largest area. And what they call digital disparity is definitely an issue. We are establishing infrastructure to make information more accessible. Russian digital technologies must also enter public administration. We pay special attention to cyber security.

Russia is ready to share its experience with ASEAN nations as well to use the successful practices of our ASEAN colleagues, even more so since we are facing similar challenges. According to experts, digital technologies will generate up to eight percent of the region’s GDP by 2030, which means conditions must be created for their introduction.

The issue of innovations “going digital” is among the priorities of the activities of our joint bodies. At the latest Russia-ASEAN meeting of economic ministers held here in Bangkok in September 2019, proposals were reviewed to use Russian solutions to integrate remote territories including through the development of digital public administration, telemedicine and distance learning.

The Russia-ASEAN working group on scientific and technological cooperation is also active. Its next meeting is scheduled for next week in Moscow. The working group set up last year offers a good opportunity to prepare joint learning programmes in the digital area, which envision among other things student exchanges of those majoring in technical disciplines and upgrading the knowledge of specialists.

We are also striving to arrange cooperation on smart cities. Singapore, which has indeed a very good experience in managing its transport complex, is already consulting the city of St Petersburg. Respective Russian agencies have come up with an initiative for establishing a permanent interaction platform on this issue with the ten nations. 

Joint projects on the digitalisation of transport infrastructure and remote territories, the training of IT specialists and the general introduction of advanced technologies are crucial for interconnectedness in the Eurasian space.

We embrace ASEAN’s interest in the experiences of other integration associations, possibilities for aligning the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity with other regional initiatives. We basically stand for establishing the Greater Eurasian Partnership, which incorporates all nations of the Eurasian Economic Union, ASEAN, SCO and other concerned structures.

 These ideas were discussed and supported by the ASEAN leaders at the Russia-ASEAN Summit in Sochi in 2016. This idea allows for aligning large integration and infrastructure projects in the long term. Meanwhile, we assume that this partnership must be built on the principles of mutual respect and benefit and it must be open for other interested nations to join.

We have actually made the first step in this direction by signing the Memorandum of Understanding between the Eurasian Economic Commission and ASEAN on economic cooperation. Its practical implementation has already started as the cooperation programme was approved in October.

We are striving to create a most favourable business environment on the territory of the Eurasian Economic Union with clear-cut and transparent rules for business. Interest in trade with the union is growing. One of ASEAN member states – Vietnam – was the first country to sign a free trade agreement with the EAEU. A similar document was recently signed with Singapore as work is on-going on this issue with other ASEAN partners – the Eurasian Economic Commission signed cooperation documents with Cambodia and Thailand and, just a couple of weeks ago, with Indonesia. The implementation of these agreements will stimulate and open up new opportunities for joint activities of our countries’ business communities.

Apparently, new technological solutions, and it is their main value, mean more opportunities for the people. There are opportunities for business and states. But we need joint solutions regarding the opportunities unveiled by these technologies and also regarding the challenges faced by our countries that the fourth industrial revolution brings about across the globe.

The socioeconomic disparities between countries are becoming more evident with the advent of new technologies because everything is happening in real-time, so to say. It is these technologies that largely determine the level of material well-being of a nation. We all know that the five leaders of the world’s largest technological companies are from the United States of America and two from China, whereas the states that do not have their own digital platforms can lose, if not their sovereignty, then at least a sea of opportunities and can basically lose the right to the future in this changing world. It appears that lack of one’s own technologies leads to lack of progress. And this must not be allowed to happen.

Companies and whole countries increasingly depend on equipment and software. Several corporations, which often dominate the market, have greater opportunities here. It impedes both healthy competition and the introduction of new promising ideas, as well as having a negative impact on information and network security. This is why Russia calls for joint efforts to de-monopolise this area, to bring competition in it, to make new solutions both in software and technologies.

And, of course, joint efforts are needed in cyber security. The world is becoming increasingly vulnerable in this sense. Cyber attacks happen every 14 seconds – just think about this number. This challenge can be effectively offset if all nations and inter-state associations concerned were to cooperate.

We consider the ASEAN Ten and the ASEAN Regional Forum to be important platforms for ensuring international information security. We have already laid the foundation for dialogue on this issue by adopting a joint statement on the issues of IT use at last year’s Russia ASEAN Summit in Singapore. It is time to move over to practical work and start talks on this field as soon as possible.

The environment of trust in cyber space must also be established, which will act in the interests of the whole international community, creating an environment where one’s personal data will be completely safe. To do that, technologies and legislation must be synchronised in the area of personal data protection and turnover. Technologies are definitely much easier to synchronise than legislation since this requires that actions be taken by practically all nations. But I hope we will be able to come to an agreement.  

To conclude, I would like to say the following: Ladies and gentlemen, we have all the tools at our disposal to solve the problems we are facing. But the key thing is that we have the will to coordinate our efforts, work together in the Asia-Pacific region format. I am confident that if we do that, we will succeed.

I would like to thank you very much for your time and it is my wish that all the participants in the today’s forum have interesting discussions and enjoy new and exciting projects.