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Russia prepared for leading role in APEC

Updated: 2012-09-06 02:13
By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

Russia wants to better integrate itself into the Asia-Pacific region, Russian Ambassador to China Sergei Razov said shortly before President Hu Jintao left Beijing for Vladivostok on Thursday.

Hu will address the 20th informal economic leaders' meeting and the CEO summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation that will run from Thursday to Sunday in Vladivostok, the largest city on the Russian Pacific coast.

Hu is expected to touch on topics including trade and investment liberalization, regional economic integration, food security and reliable supply and to make proposals on development of infrastructure as regional economies are striving to stabilize growth and promote recovery.

On the sidelines of the meeting Hu will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of other APEC economies.

It is the first time Russia has hosted the meeting. The choice of the summit venue "demonstrates the importance paid by the Russian government to the development and modernization of the Russian Far East", Razov told China Daily.

The Far East region, about one-third of Russia's territory, is economically less developed than the rest of the world's largest country, while its neighboring Asia-Pacific region comprises the world's leading economies such as China, Japan and South Korea. The 21-member bloc of APEC has been the driving force of the global economy.

After Putin returned to presidency in May, Moscow has underscored a strategic pivot away from crisis-stricken Europe to the Far East by establishing the Ministry of Far East Development and investing in its eastern seaboard to attract investors and tourists from Asia.

The prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region is in the interests of the entire world, said Razov.

"We are certain that Russian chairmanship in APEC this year will prove once again that our country is committed to developing stronger economic and trade ties with the Asia-Pacific and stands ready to implement necessary practical steps in this direction," Razov said.

"One of the most crucial issues is the development of transport and logistical chains aimed at reducing costs for trade between the APEC region and the European Union," he said.

"To this end, Russia is ready to fully utilize its geographical advantages as well as the opportunities provided by the newly-formed Eurasian Common Economic Space."

After formally joining the World Trade Organization in August, Russia is looking into a new momentum for better integration into the region, said the ambassador, adding a series of measures, including preliminary talks on Free Trade Agreements with New Zealand and Vietnam, could provide new prospects for Russia's integration.

Russia's trade turnover with APEC economies reached $96 billion, or 23 percent of the country's total in the first half of 2012, according to the Russian State Statistics Service.

But the EU remains Russia's biggest trade partner. It is clear Moscow is signaling it will increase its attention toward the Asia-Pacific region and seek to re-establish its status as a strong Euro-Asia power, said Sun Zhuangzhi, a professor on Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Russia can upgrade its industrial structure and balance population distribution by boosting infrastructure construction and big joint programs in the sparsely populated Far East region, while the major but energy-thirsty Asian economies including China, Japan and South Korea can benefit from the region's rich resources, he said.

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