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APEC summit - success for Russia

September 10, 2012, 16:17 UTC+3
On Sunday the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit
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On Sunday the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which was targeted at attracting foreign investments in Russia’s development, ended in Vladivostok. Many experts believe that the summit ended unexpectedly successfully for Russia.

By force of circumstances the summit turned unexpectedly successful for Russia, the Kommersant business daily reported. It is unknown whether the Russian authorities expected the major achievements of the summit: the APEC as “a mild alternative” to the World Trade Organization and to partnership with the EU, stronger economic contacts with Japan and China’s readiness to support Russia’s financial and political initiatives evidently were not on the agenda some six months ago. It emerged that nobody in the world has plans to hamper “eastward turn” of Russia’s economy. “Eastward turn” is still only a supposition related mainly to hypothetic prospects of the EU crisis.

The Vladivostok summit’s communiqu· made public on September 9 demonstrated that the APEC operated as an economic association. The summit’s biggest achievement is that delegates took obligations to refrain from raising protective import duties until 2015 and to coordinate the List of 54 environmental goods, on which it is proposed to cut the import duties up to 5 percent within three years (now they make up 25-30 percent). This mainly concerns energy equipment and components of the public utility infrastructure of the “green” energy. In the future the list of environmental goods can be expanded. This, possibly, concerns the creation of “a mild alternative” to the WTO within the APEC framework and the creation of opportunities for APEC member-states to play on contradictions in the WTO with the EU.

The summit results were also important for Russia, as the theme of creating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (an agreement on trade of 9 developed APEC economies) initiated by the U.S. in 2009, where Russia and China have no chances to join, got no development, the daily wrote. At the previous APEC summit in Honolulu Chinese President Hu Jintao announced his country’s principal support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while delegates in Vladivostok did not elaborate on this theme. In general, there were no evident contradictions in positions of Russia and China at the APEC summit, although the bilateral meeting between Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao yielded no significant results.

Despite tense political relations between Russia and Japan over the territorial dispute, Japan-related results of the summit were positive. Tokyo expressed readiness to participate in Russia’s liquefied natural gas export project Vladivostok-LNG. The EAST Group and Japan’s Mitsui signed an agreement on railway transport. Moreover, the two countries sealed several deals of a minor scale. The Russian-Japanese talks on the sidelines of the APEC summit were not widely displayed, but soon after President Vladimir Putin announced that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda would visit Russia soon to discuss the major problems in the two countries’ relations.

There is an impression that nobody, including the organizers, expected the success of the APEC summit, the Izvestiya daily reported. It is enough to recall how many gloomy forecasts circulated in the run-up to the forum. However, after it ended, it can be said that its results surpassed all expectations. The thing is that APEC is the forum of economies and a forum, by definition, is a platform for conducting discussions and drawing up the guidelines and not for taking decisions.

However, this summit was an exception. It turned into a platform that brought together the leaders of powerful nations of the Asia-Pacific Region (Russia, China, U.S. and Japan) and where many different agreements were signed. It will take much time to name all deals, but it is enough to mention that after the forum Russia evidently gained more influence among APEC nations, the daily reported.

The key issue on the APEC agenda was the opening of borders for mutual economic and cultural relations, i.e. the creation of something like the European Union, but without the single currency system and of course, without so close merger of economies. Leading researchers and politicians believe that the centre of the world is shifting to Asia. And Russia in this case tries not only to lag behind, but even takes efforts to become one of the leaders of this process.

Vladimir Putin as the APEC summit’s host in every possible way demonstrated reorientation of Russia’s interests from Europe to Asia and its intention to become a trade bridge between East and West, the Vedomosti reported.

“Attention to the first summit on the Russian territory is evident, but decisions taken are recommendatory and of course, not all of them will be translated into reality,” Leonid Gusev from Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University) told the daily. Thus, the talks on the creation of a rail corridor through the Korean Peninsula have been underway starting from the year of 2000, but the implementation of this project depends on relations between two Koreas and no breakthrough is to be expected.

“If the quality of Russia’s state governance remains unchanged, integration into the regions may even worsen the situation of Siberia and the Far East,” Dmitry Suslov from the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy said. A free trade agreement will only strengthen the model, when Russia exports energy resources and imports high-tech goods, while maintenance of the Russian Railway Company’s monopoly makes it impossible to develop transport flows.

The forum’s organizers placed attraction of foreign investments practically as the APEC summit’s main goal, the Novye Izvestiya wrote. One of the summit’s sessions was entitled Invest in Russia! Vladimir Putin actively promoted several projects. In particular, he proposed to use Russia’s vast territories for the cargo transit between Europe and Asia. Putin explained APEC nations’ leaders the advantages of using the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Northern Maritime Corridor to supply cargos to Europe. Moreover, the Russian leader called on APEC member-states to join the development of Russia’s agricultural lands.


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