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Putin says economic situation in Asia Pacific is more optimistic than elsewhere

September 09, 2012, 12:38 UTC+3

Russian President also said he shared the opinion that Europe’s problems stemmed from both economics and politics

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VLADIVOSTOK, September 9 (Itar-Tass) — The Asia Pacific region can boast positive moods and optimistic expectations about the development of the global economy, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference on Sunday dedicated to the results of the APEC summit in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok.

“In general, moods in this region are rather positive and expectations are moderately optimistic,” he noted.

“There are some worries, especially taking into account the situation in Europe,” Putin admitted. “But still, the Asia Pacific region is a driving force of the entire global economy and whereas the euro zone is featuring a zero growth or a recession, here we see growth, although minor.”

Putin also said he shared the opinion that Europe’s problems stemmed from both economics and politics. “I believe this is a true opinion,” he noted. In his words, the entire European system with high social guarantees is a hard burden for the economy. “Such burden is much easier” in the Asia Pacific region, he added.

At the same time, Putin pledged that Russia would not seek to shift the vector of economic cooperation towards the Asia Pacific region but will take efforts to have its infrastructure get ready for growing trade.

“Nothing should be done deliberately, everything is taking place in due course. As the potential of the Asia Pacific region is growing, Russia’s trade with this region will expand likewise,” Putin said.

“But it in no way means that we are to stand still watching what is going on, we must get prepared,” the Russian leader noted. “And we are doing this, we are expanding infrastructure capacities, expanding the capacities of the TransSiberian and Baikal-Amur railways. We shall take effort to expand port facilities and energy sector facilities.”

“There is much to be done here and we shall continue our efforts,” Putin pledged. He reminded that currently Europe accounts for 51 percent of Russia’s foreign trade while countries of the Asia Pacific region – only 24 percent.

The Russian leader also vowed to continue efforts to promote the development of Russia’s Far Eastern region.

“We shall continue to develop the Far East based on the initiative and enthusiasm of our citizens of the potential of our big country,” Putin said. In his words, tax privileges might be offered for projects in the East Siberian region that are started from the zero level. “I discussed it with Elvira Nabiullina [presidential aide] yesterday. I mean tax benefits for the projects, started from the zero level, the so-called Greenfield,” he said.

“We shall be considering it now, and I shall ask the government to submit their suggestions,” Putin added. “There are other suggestions, but I believe it is too early to be speaking about them in public. It would be possible to speak about them when everything is verified and agreed.”

The Russian president also dwelt on cooperation with China and Japan. “Jointly with foreign partners, including from China, we are working to create new technologies of tomorrow,” Putin said at a news conference on Sunday after the APEC summit in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok. Among top priority cooperation areas in Russia’s Far East he listed a ship-building cluster. “One enterprise is being set up with Chinese capital, another one – with Korean capital,” he specified.

“There are good prospects in the aircraft-building sector,” he went on, citing as an example joint projects with China on the development of a new generation of helicopters on the basis of Russian-made rotocraft and wide-body jets. He recalled that the world’s biggest helicopters capable of lifting up to 20 tons of cargoes had been used in the rescue operation after an earthquake in China. He said he was absolutely sure that though joint efforts “we shall be able to cope with our task” and break into the global market of wide-body jets monopolized by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and the United States’ Boeing.

The Russian president also raised problems of the energy sector. “We hope for further cooperation in the nuclear energy sector not only as far as the generation is concerned but also in the research sphere,” he said adding that there are “colossal possibilities” as far as the hydrocarbon energy sector is concerned.

As concerns relations with Japan, Putin said he wanted to settle all the problems stemming from the past. “Japan is our key partner in the region. We want to settle all the problems that we have inherited from the past,” he said at a news conference after the APEC summit in Vladivostok.

“We have agreed that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will pay a visit to Russia to discuss all such problems in a calm atmosphere,” he noted.

Putin said that his meeting with the Japanese prime minister on the sidelines of the APEC summit focused on “Japan’s investments to Russia, on joint ventures.”

“I had an impression that the Japanese prime minister was satisfied with the progress of Japanese businesses in Russia,” Putin said and added that several days ago Japan’s Mazda had launched a new car assembly facility in Russia’s Far East.

“After the accident at Japan’s Fukushima-1 nuclear plant, special attention is focused on cooperation in the energy sector,” Putin went on. Russia’s national gas utility Gazprom has recently signed an agreement on the production of liquefied natural gas. “We are ready to lend out shoulder to the Japanese in the area of energy sources,” he stressed.

At the news conference, the Russian president checked a journalist who said he doubted that Russia’s summit-related expenses could pay off. He said Russia’s expenses on the APEC summit meeting in Vladivostok would serve the interests of the Russian Far Eastern region and the whole country.

“No offence, but what 600 billion you are talking about?,” the president said. “Of these 600 billion roubles, as many as 300 billion were used to build a gas pipeline system from Sakhalin to Vladivostok to secure gas supplies to the Primorsky Territory. What APEC-related preparations have to do with that? The goal was to ensure gas supplies to the region,” Putin stressed.

“Second. Sewage and water supply systems, a new runway, a new airport terminal, bridges, and motor roads have been built here. Money has been invested in other infrastructure facilities. It creates conditions for the development of the region for decades to come. I am sure, say, that the airport will reach its designed capacity very soon,” the president noted.

“Of course, it might have been cheaper to host the summit at some other venue but in that case the Far East would have been deprived of such new intellectual centre,” he said. “It is right to begin the development of the Far East with the intellectual base. Now it is necessary to attract specialists here, including from other countries, to venture other tasks.”

“One more summit-related spending is ensuring security. The money was used to equip security services. The equipment will not be wasted, it will used to back the Student Games in Kazan, the Olympic Games in Sochi, Group of Eight and Group of Twenty forums. Nothing will be lost. All the expenses were absolutely justified,” Putin emphasized.

Assessing the results of the APEC summit, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin said he considered the dialogue during the summit as constructive. “The most important is the contents of our work – it was constructive, and I am satisfied fully with the results,” Putin said. He stressed that Russia had taken into account the interests of the APEC countries while forming the summit agenda. “We were chairing, but we did satisfy suggestions from the APEC counterparts so that to include the issues important for them,” he said.

“I welcomed very interesting guests, I spoke with constructive opponents,” Putin said. “Our guests welcomed the idea of holding a summit not in five-star hotels but at a future university campus. They praised the fact that state resources were used not to build palaces but to build a new international educational and research centre,” Putin said and noted that the conditions were quite decent, although “rather Spartan.”

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