The ASEAN trade space with Russia has taken a hit during 2022 with sanctions upon Russia having taken a bite out of growth. A cessation of direct flights to any ASEAN cities, Singapore clamping down on Russian investments, and problems with logistics and payment issues have all taken a toll. 

That said, ASEAN-Russia trade grew 34 percent in 2021, to reach US$20 billion, although it will struggle to reach that this year. Nevertheless, what trade there is covers a broad spectrum of products, an encouraging platform that both sides are keen to build on – provided new obstacles can be overcome.

Some of the ASEAN nations have very positive fits with Russian imports and exports. Having attended the ASEAN-Russia session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok yesterday (Tuesday, September 6, 2022) I can outline some of these developments both in terms of institutional progressions in the pipeline and with some of the ASEAN nations themselves.

Financial cooperation 

Both Russia and several ASEAN nations have been discussing switching payment processes to national currencies, most notably between the Russian Ruble and the Vietnamese Dong, and the Indonesian Rupiah. It will only be a matter of time before these mechanisms are agreed upon – Russia and India have already put this into place. 

The ability for ASEAN nations to be able to access Russia’s MIR payment card system, in partnership with the various ASEAN national payment card systems is also under discussion – Vietnam already has such an option. 2023 may well see other ASEAN nations reach agreements to do so. 

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