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Russia and APEC: Towards sustained and stable development

Russia and APEC: Towards sustained and stable development in the Asia-Pacific Region

Vladimir V. Putin
President of the Russian Federation

Russian President Vladimir PutinNext year will mark the tenth anniversary of Russia's becoming a full fledged member of APEC. It was a committed and strategic choice for us, based on objective economic factors and geopolitical circumstances. Life itself has since then convincingly demonstrated that the decision made then was timely and well-founded.

 Today, on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Sydney I would like to share with you my vision of the prospects for Russia's participation in this influential regional association.
 APEC has entered the 21st century as a major and authoritative regional structure with a uniquely broad membership of countries situated on both sides of the Pacific. Represented in it are Asia, the Eastern American continent and the Southern Pacific. Russia has been successfully cooperating within its framework.

 Due to the rapid development of the Asia-Pacific Region, APEC can be called the most promising economic association of the planet. Even now the Member States of the Forum account for 57 percent of the world's gross domestic product, 48 percent of world trade and over 40 percent of direct foreign investments. And according to expert estimates, these figures may go up in the coming years. Such a prospect is also held out by APEC’s basic priorities aimed at improving the trade environment in the Asia-Pacific Region as well as broadening regional integration.

 Active and multifaceted participation in the work of APEC is becoming an increasingly important aspect of Russia's foreign policy on its eastern frontiers. Accordingly, our interaction with the Forum has been growing every year. For instance, APEC's share in Russia's foreign trade has increased now to reach 18.1 percent including up to 16.6 percent in Russian exports. Such influential APEC members as China and USA are among our top ten partners, and if combined with Japan, they are among the top ten leaders of investment cooperation with Russia.

 Our key task is to make use of APEC's possibilities so that Russia could join the Asia–Pacific integration mechanisms in a most effective and efficient way. This naturally complements Russia's national plans for social and economic development. Top priority is given to projects of intensive development of Siberia and the Far East. A large scale modernization of leading economic sectors, industrial and transportation infrastructure is being pursued, notably, by the Program for the Development of the Far East and Trans-Baikal Regions, i.e. the areas that directly belong to the Asia–Pacific Region.

 Russia has officially stated its readiness to chair APEC in 2012. And it is not by chance that we have suggested that the Associations' Summit be held in the eastern part of our country – in the city of Vladivostok. We believe that this meeting will allow a detailed discussion of the future of the Asia–Pacific Region and its progress towards a sustainable and stable development.

I would like to emphasize that this would not be the first time that important APEC events have taken place in the Russian Far East. We have hosted a major APEC Investment Fair as well as meetings of the APEC Working Groups on Transportation, Energy, Industrial Science and Technology. An active and substantive dialogue took place during the First Asia-Pacific Congress that focused on deepening business links between the Russian Federation and APEC.

We are confident that Russia's chairmanship of APEC can be of great benefit both for our partners and us, primarily in terms of further strengthening mutually beneficial business links and the free trade space as well as in deploying innovative technologies. It would make a substantial contribution to the development of regional and world cooperation and provide an incentive for bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the APEC economies.

It is evident that APEC’s current activities go beyond addressing economic problems only. The task of countering threats and challenges in the area of development remains relevant. It includes neutralizing terrorism, preventing natural calamities and man made disasters as well as epidemics. The problem of corruption and money laundering continues to be a serious obstacle on the way to economic stability in the APEC region.
The Russian Federation is consistently strengthening its positions in these important spheres of regional cooperation. Our country has been making a notable contribution to APEC counter-terrorism activities. This year, for example, we have put forward an initiative to set up a system to protect critical energy infrastructure facilities against terrorist attacks. We actively cooperate with the other Forum Member States in elaborating joint steps to cut off financial channels feeding terrorists and to counter corruption. Finally, starting from last year our country has been cosponsoring a broad dialogue between civilizations within APEC. This dialogue is meant to protect our societies, particularly the youth, from xenophobia, ethnic or religious intolerance.

 Russia pioneered here the work on managing the consequences of natural and man made emergencies and designing a system of information sharing and coordinated action in case of epidemic and pandemic outbreaks.
Moreover, we have unswervingly supported the progress towards regional energy security based on partnership beneficial for everyone.

 We believe that strengthening interaction between APEC official and business circles is of utmost importance. Russia has vigorously supported the industrial dialogue on non ferrous metals engaging businesspeople from 12 APEC countries. By all accounts, its three year work was mutually beneficial and made it possible to achieve serious progress in creating more favorable conditions for the relevant APEC markets. Now, this dialogue is being reshaped to a new, more powerful institution with a broader scope, whose activities, I hope, will be as effective.

 The effort of CEOs of large Russian companies within the APEC Business Consultative Council is also worth paying close attention to. The constructive cooperation between the Council and Forum is being consistently and steadily strengthened, bringing together the interests of the private and public sectors. I am referring to the promising joint work that has a direct practical effect on the development of the participating economies.
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 In conclusion, I would like to stress once again that Russia strives to actively broaden its participation in APEC. It is of fundamental importance to us that all activities of this association are carried out on the basis of consensus and discretion in the implementation of the decisions made, as consistent with one's national interests. It is this very approach that both secures regional progress and allows each participant to address the specific tasks it has set  for itself.
 The focus of the current summit in Sydney – Strengthening our Community, Building a Sustainable Future – fully lives up to the logic of the APR economic development which is based on consolidating mutually beneficial cooperation, expanding large-scale trade and investment, and strengthening common security. I am convinced that the meeting of the APEC leaders in Australia will contribute to the achievement of these strategic goals, the main one consisting in ensuring a sustainable and predictable future for all countries and peoples of the region.

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