One day ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, which he is hosting in Vladivostok from 6 to 10 September 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin set out his country’s APEC priorities in an article titled "An Asia-Pacific Growth Agenda", published by The Wall Street Journal on 5 September 2012.

Historically, geopolitically and economically, Russia is part and parcel of the Asia-Pacific region. It believes unfettered cooperation with other Asia-Pacific economies can help it dramatically speed up social and economic development in its Far East and Siberia.

In Vladivostok, it will be seeking further economic integration into Asia and the Pacific. In pursuing this integration, it will be building on the experience of its Customs Union and Single Economic Area with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Importantly, this three-way union is built on the rules of the World Trade Organization, of which Russia is now a full member. Russia hopes the Customs Union will ultimately evolve into a Eurasian Economic Union, a global economic and political player which would form a bridge between the Asia-Pacific region and the European Union.

At the upcoming summit, Russia will also be strongly arguing against protectionism. It believes that while bringing short-term benefits, protectionism ultimately results in stagnation. To sustain its dynamism, the Asia-Pacific region has to bring down all barriers to the movement of goods, services, capital, technology and ideas. Cooperation in science and education is also essential. Accordingly, Russia proposes to create a network of Asia-Pacific universities, with unlimited student exchanges between them.

Dr Denis Tyurin, who heads the Business Club of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization said:

"Russia will be pressing for absolutely free economic wheeling and dealing in Asia and the Pacific. It will also argue that dropping protectionism would help the region deal with its food problem. As a big food producer, Russia has been suffering from unfair customs barriers in international farm trade. It believes these barriers must go, allowing Asia-Pacific nations to pursue coordinated social and economic development programmes. All integrating economies would benefit in the end."

Dr Tyurin also denies speculation that Russia is turning its back on Europe:

"Russia cannot afford to ignore the greatest of the contemporary integration projects, the European Union. It sees Asia and the Pacific as the second greatest integration area. It also hopes that a Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union will one day form a vital link between the Asia-Pacific region and Europe."

In Vladivostok, Russia will be urging its Asia-Pacific partners not to lose out on opportunities to lucratively invest in projects on Russian territory.

Source: The Voice of Russia