Moscow keen to build seamless Asia-Pacific community
Moscow is playing a more “active and constructive” role in the Asia-Pacific to facilitate the establishment of “one single economic entity” in the region, a senior Russian diplomat told China Daily on Thursday.
“It is our ultimate goal to work with regional partners to build a seamless Asia-Pacific community in terms of trade and economic cooperation, based on the principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency and equality,” said Valery Sorokin, Russia’s senior official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Sorokin is attending this year’s fourth and final APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting in Beijing, which marks the climax of the economic leaders’ meeting on Monday and Tuesday.
“This is the concluding Senior Officials’ Meeting. We are summing up what we have discussed and done within the year into ‘outcome documents’ for our ministers to approve,” he said.
“At this stage, the bulk of this year’s ministerial statements and leaders’ declaration is ready, but we are still fine-tuning some added.
Sorokin said one of APEC’s most significant achievements this year is the agreement to lay out a road map to the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
“As part of the Asia-Pacific, Russia supports the integration and does not want the Asia-Pacific economic space fragmented,” he added.
In recent years, negotiations over several subregional trading groupings such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership have accelerated.
Sorokin said the existing and emerging integration mechanisms should not seek to split the region economically or interrupt the simultaneous negotiations over the FTAAP.
“Russia has successful regional integration experience of the Eurasian Economic Union, which we think is useful to APEC’s undertaking of FTAAP,” he added.
The EEU is a political and economic union between Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Armenia that will officially take effect next year, creating a single market of more than 170 million people and a gross domestic product of $3 trillion.
Describing Russia as “a bridge between the East and the West”, Sorokin said closer linkages between the two integration mechanisms should be built to produce more benefits for regional economies.
He also dismissed speculations over Moscow’s shift of economic focus to the more lucrative Asia-Pacific region due to escalating sanctions imposed by the United States and the EuropeanUnion, who accused Russia of inciting unrest in Eastern Ukraine
Sorokin said Russia’s emphasis on the Asia-Pacific has never been out of the demand or requirement of the present situation with Russian economy, but a policy direction that has been followed for years.
“Asia-Pacific is a robust and well-established engine for global development, even in times of financial crisis. I believe APEC economies are contributing to a speedy global recovery,” Sorokin said.
“We are not starting to pay attention to the Asia-Pacific because of the sanctions,” he added.
On Tuesday, Russia also contributed $3 million to the APEC Support Fund in an aim to endorse the organization’s capacity-building initiatives for member economies.