MOSCOW, November 8. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday Moscow supports the idea of setting up a free trade area in Asia and the Pacific.
"We support the idea of forming an Asia-Pacific free trade area," he wrote in an article published by a number of Russian media. "We believe this is in our practical interest and represents an opportunity to strengthen our positions in the rapidly growing APR markets. I want to note that over the past five years, the share of APEC economies in Russia's foreign trade has increased from 23 to 31%, and from 17 to 24% in exports. And we have no intention of stopping there.
Putin said this sweeping project should be implemented with account of the experience of key integration formats in Asia/Pacific and in Eurasia, especially the Eurasian Economic Union [EAEU] where Russia cooperates with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
"Our union has been developing dynamically, and we are eager to build relations with all countries and associations that are interested in doing so," he said.
Putin recalled that Vietnam, the host country of the current Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, was the first country in the region to sign a free trade agreement with the EAEU. "As a result, our trade grew significantly and became more diversified. Talks on a trade and economic cooperation agreement with China concluded a short while ago. Talks with Singapore have begun, and we are working on the possibility of signing a free trade agreement with ASEAN," he wrote.
In the article titled devoted to the 25th anniversary meeting of APEC economic leaders in Da Nang, scheduled for November 10-11, Putin stressed the broad opportunities that would open up for communications between the participating leaders and coordination of positions on diverse issues from economic to social to ecological to humanitarian.
"Our countries strive to cooperate based on the principles of consensus and voluntary participation, mutual respect and willingness to compromise, regardless of the political situation," he wrote. "This is what APEC’s unique spirit of partnership is all about."
Putin gave the assurances that Russia was interested in a successful development of Asia/Pacific region.
"We believe that effective economic integration based on the principles of openness, mutual benefit and the universal rules of the World Trade Organisation is the primary means of achieving this goal," he indicated.