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MEDVEDEV: Russia and the world economy

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EXCLUSIVE, OP-ED:

During the last decade, Russia has been working actively and initiatively in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. In the run-up to the APEC Summit in the Peruvian capital, I would like to present my vision of the place and goals of this authoritative regional alliance and prospects of Russia's participation in it.

The modern world is changing rapidly. These dynamic shifts are particularly evident in the Asia-Pacific states. It is in this region where all pluses and minuses of the globalized economy and enhanced multifaceted interdependence are observable. It is these countries that are increasingly facing new challenges that cannot be addressed without creating a better security architecture and institutions for sustainable development.

I am convinced that APEC can and must play an increasing role in the search for the ways to secure stability and prosperity for our common region. During the Lima Summit we shall discuss prospects of economic, investment and technological cooperation, as well as ways and models of further development of Asia-Pacific cooperation.

I would like to emphasize that minimization of the consequences of the global financial crisis and ensuring the energy and food security are, to my mind, topics of priority.

The global economic crisis was prompted mainly by financial market imbalances and faulty economic policies of certain countries.

In order to protect the national economy and ensure the functioning of the real sector as well as the early recovery of the banking system, Russia is taking effective stabilization measures. We have developed a program to minimize crisis impact that is being implemented. In our anti-crisis domestic policy we attach great importance to enhancing international collaboration. We consider that it is a key to solving the priority task of establishing a multi-polar international financial and economic system.

It is the APEC countries, in particular, that will have to largely assume the task to unravel the world economic crisis. Today, the role of the emerging economies is growing as never before. Against the backdrop of the comedown of traditionally sustainable economies (and even the threat of recession in a number of developed countries), the possibilities to maintain high growth rates, APEC member states' market investment capacities, and the high human and technological potential of these countries, allow us to consider that this region will become the locomotive of sustainable world economic development in the future. We believe that many APEC countries will become leaders in the post-crisis period and will gain new positions in key markets.

We have voiced a number of proposals to modernize world economic structure and finances at the G-20 Washington summit. I believe that it is necessary to discuss them at the APEC meeting. The organization's substantial mutual trade turnover bodes well for establishing a more flexible modern system of international trade, as well as to strengthen the role of regional currencies.

The summit agenda contains such topical issues as energy security, food shortage, climate change and trade security, as well as the issue of increasing social responsibility of the corporate sector. A substantive discussion of these issues and development of agreed decisions fully meet APEC's program goals.

Serious attention should be given to the issues of energy security. Russia shares the concerns of Forum members about energy price fluctuations. Indeed, they influence economic growth rates, and affect the realization of urgent social projects.

As one of the largest oil and gas suppliers in the world, Russia will promote the creation of such a system of energy supply in the Asia-Pacific region that would let consumers diversify the geography of imports, as well as ensure reliable and uninterrupted supplies. We are absolutely interested in maintaining stable and predictable hydrocarbon prices based on the real ratio of demand and offer. We stand ready to take part in joint energy saving projects, and development of alternative energy sources as well.

Environmental protection is playing an ever-greater role in fulfilling economic development objectives. This is becoming one of the leading themes at various international fora, including APEC. Russia has been dealing with these problems in a responsible way, which is testified by our contribution to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Necessary steps at the international and national levels have been made. In July of this year I signed the decree on certain measures to increase the energy and environmental effectiveness of the Russian economy, which sets out the goal to cut down by 2020, Russia's GDP power consumption by at least 40 percent against 2007.

We have been endeavoring to facilitate an effective solution of such an acute problem as food shortage. Russia possesses a unique agricultural potential and has been doing its utmost not only to fully meet its own needs, but also to help other countries. In the future, Russia seeks to become a major player in the world food market. Incidentally, in response to the food problem which has been increasingly troubling consumers and producers, Russia has put forward an initiative to hold the World Grain Summit in St. Petersburg in early June 2009.

This partnership between the state and corporate business has been a significant source for sustainable economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. This partnership has been in APEC's focus. Indeed, a dialogue on non-ferrous metals initiated by Russia was developing successfully over a number of years with the broad participation of business circles of our countries. And currently, the Special Task Group on Mining and Metallurgy actively works under Russia's chairmanship. The activities of the representatives of the Russian business community in the Business Consultative Council of the Forum was positively assessed by our partners, which held its plenary session in Moscow this May.

I will note, in particular, the initiative launched by Peru to enhance social responsibility of the APEC corporate sector. What is involved is the consolidation of state and private interests to achieve a common strategic goal, that is sustainable and progressive social and economic development in all of the vast Asian and Pacific space.

Russia fully shares and supports this approach. Our economy has a continuous successful record of integration into the world economy. We intend to further the multifaceted dialogue within the APEC on liberalization of the trade regime and development of investment interaction.

The issues of ensuring security also remain among cooperation priorities. In the first place this concerns joint countering of international terrorism which also seriously threatens trade and economic ties, as well as sea communications and energy transportation. APEC's work on the implementation of Russia's initiative on counter-terrorist protection of strategically important elements of the energy infrastructure is called to shore up the joint efforts aimed at carrying out these tasks.

Improvement of joint actions in emergencies is another topical task. It also includes the prevention and mitigation of consequences of natural and man-made disasters, and the fight against pandemic diseases. Russia has accumulated considerable organizational and technological expertise in these fields which, as practice shows, has been used by APEC countries. Only in recent years, prompt and effective assistance by Russian rescuers who worked hand-in-hand with their colleagues allowed saving and protecting the lives of thousands of people.

The theme of the fight against corruption has been increasingly in the focus of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Like other participants in the Forum, Russia considers this work exceptionally important. This summer, the National Plan for Countering Corruption has been adopted and quite recently an "anti-corruption package" of laws was submitted to the state Duma. We will do our utmost to promote multilateral efforts in this field as well.

I have mentioned only the main tasks facing the Forum today. I am convinced that their practical fulfillment depends on APEC's commitment to the principles of consensus and voluntariness. Russia will continue to strictly adhere to these principles.

We are convinced that Russia's involvement in the integration processes in the region contributes to more efficient implementation of social and economic development programs in our country. And in this context, we attach great importance to strengthening industrial cooperation and collaboration in the field of advanced technologies and implementing transportation projects, including the establishment of a "land bridge" to move cargos between Asia-Pacific and Europe.

Broadening of interregional ties is important, in the first place, to Siberia and the Far East of Russia. It is for these reasons that in view of the Russian presidency it has been decided to hold the APEC 2012 summit in Vladivostok. We are already actively preparing for it, drawing on the new ideas as well as experience of organizing meetings of the Forum's working bodies in the Far East.

The proactive presidency of Peru in APEC in 2008 and the preparation by Peruvian leaders of an intensive agenda of the summit assure us that it will bear positive results. I am convinced that the authority of the Forum, the interest in cooperation for the benefit of our peoples and the responsible APEC-specific approach to tackling issues of present-day relevance will continue to grow from year to year. And this is exactly the key to success in building our common, secure and prosperous Asia-Pacific space.

Dmitry Medvedev is president of Russia.

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