Partnership in APEC
Towards open and equal cooperation in the interests of development
Vladimir Putin's article published in last year before the major summit on
cooperation in the region became one of key articles about the relation of
Russia and the Asian countries in format Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
For a long time trade has been the driving force of economic growth in the
Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world. However, as the effect of
tariff liberalization started to wear off, it became clear that we need
additional agreements covering services, investment, non-tariff barriers,
competition policy, and subsidies. Of course, we cannot reach such agreements
without complicated negotiations and mutual concessions.
Deeper regional economic integration offers us a possible way out of the current
situation. Today, Russia and its close neighbors — Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan,
and Kyrgyzstan — have taken successful steps to develop the Eurasian Economic
Union (EAEU). Our integration project is based on the WTO’s universal,
transparent principles and is designed from the outset to work together with
other countries and their organizations. In May this year, we signed a free
trade agreement between the EAEU and Vietnam. Another 40 countries are examining
the possibility of signing similar agreements.
One example of responsible and transparent partnership is the agreement to
converge our EAEU project with China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. This
will allow us to resolve a number of bottlenecks in transport infrastructure and
procedures for cross-border movement of goods and services. It will also give a
big boost to effective integration of the Asia-Pacific economies.
We hope to reach mutually advantageous agreements on traditional and renewable
energy sources, emergency and disaster response, food security and agriculture
at the Russia-ASEAN summit next year in Sochi.
Overall, the creation of new free trade zones will help to create good
conditions for liberalizing trade and investment flows in the region. At the
same time however, the confidential fashion in which the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) negotiations were conducted is probably not the best way to
facilitate sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
We believe that the strategic road ahead lies not only in increasing the number
of free trade zones, but also in joint development and implementation of the
best liberalization practices among all APEC members, taking into account each
other’s positions and interests. In this respect, we should continue our course
of bolstering APEC’s role as a coordinator of various integration initiatives
aimed at developing in the region a common and open market, free of
discrimination and bloc-based barriers. Here, effective implementation of the
Beijing roadmap for APEC’s contribution to establishing an Asia-Pacific free
trade zone, approved in Beijing in 2014, is particularly important.
Realizing the APEC countries’ development potential will take more than just
reaching agreement on the rules of the game for today’s trade flows. We need to
work out common approaches to development and regulation of the emerging markets
that make up the digital technology-based ‘new economy’. We need to put in place
the institutions and rules that will contribute to development and create new
opportunities for our countries’ businesspeople to create modern, promising
products and high quality jobs.
Russia, for its part, is active in the work of the region’s new financial
institutions — the New Development Bank BRICS and the Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank. I am sure that their work will help to develop the region and
will also help to make the global financial system stronger and more stable.
At the national level, Russia continues its efforts to create the most
comfortable business climate. Our efforts have received international appraisal
and over the last 4 years, Russia has moved up 69 points in the World Bank’s
Doing Business rating, from 120th place to 51stplace.
We place great importance on developing the potential of Russia’s Far East. This
year, we began developing the priority development areas – economic zones
offering what for Russia are unprecedented tax and other incentives. A special
law was passed on a free port in Vladivostok. We plan to extend this status to
other key ports in the Far East. The Far East ports, the Northern Sea Route, and
modernization of our mainline railways will all contribute to greater
integration with the Asia-Pacific region and create an important infrastructure
link between the Asia-Pacific region and Europe.
APEC countries are showing real interest too in Russia’s proposals to form a
common education space in the region. Today, when the Asia-Pacific region has
established itself ever more solidly as part of the world’s leading technology
centres, it is more relevant than ever to combine our efforts to create big
research platforms and centres. Recognizing Russia’s sense of initiative in this
area, our partners have entrusted our country, together with Peru, the right to
preside over the APEC Education Ministerial Meeting, which will take place in
Lima in 2016.
Rapid economic growth is not possible without guaranteed energy security in the
APEC region and fair and long-term climate regulation. Russia supports APEC’s
efforts to establish good conditions for investing in the regional energy
transport system, develop integrated energy markets, increase the share of
eco-friendly and renewable energy sources, and ensure access to low-carbon
The Paris Climate Change Conference will take place soon, in December. This
conference will try to reach a global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas
emissions. Russia wants to see this work succeed and we have already presented
our report on our country’s contribution to these efforts.
The scale and diversity of APEC’s tasks is very impressive. I believe that we
will be successful in resolving these tasks if we keep to the fundamental
principles of working together as partners and acting in the interests of our
peoples and our efforts to create a united Asia-Pacific family.