Apec is about genuine collectivism, says Russian foreign minister: The Nation

People arrive to the Lima Convention Centre during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit on Nov 17, 2016.
People arrive to the Lima Convention Centre during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit on Nov 17, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Sergey Lavrov

The Nation/Asia News Network

The Apec summit takes place against a background of global political and economic turbulence.

The ongoing shaping of new polycentric world order is accompanied by growing instability.

The risks posed by terrorism and extremism, regional conflicts and migration crisis are increasing. "Information wars" are incited in order to undermine sovereign states.

Some countries are pursuing the same nefarious purpose by increasingly resorting to illegal unilateral trade and financial sanctions, challenging the exclusive prerogative of the United Nations Security Council.

All of this has seriously hampered efforts to overcome the crisis and get the world economy back on track towards steady and balanced growth. It has affected investment, global GDP growth rate and international trade.

In Asia-Pacific, the effects of these negative tendencies have been mitigated by major technological and financial potential that has enabled the region to maintain its leading position in world affairs.

However, it is evident that the growing challenges will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the prospects of long-term growth in the region.

As a Eurasian power, Russia is interested in ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the entire region.

We are convinced that the only possible way to create a favourable environment for sustainable progress in today's increasingly interconnected world is through cooperation with obligatory regard for the interests of all countries.

In politics and security, this task must be tackled through collective development of a code of mutually acceptable conduct based on the principle of equal and indivisible security.

Lack of progress in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations is a significant contributing factor in the current instability of the global economy.

In this connection, we consider that a priority for this weekend's summit is to explicitly confirm Apec's position concerning the complementary role of regional trade agreements as regards the multilateral trade system.

The Russian initiative on the Greater Eurasian Partnership is primarily aimed at attaining these objectives.

Its implementation is intended to harmonise the emerging Eurasian multilevel system of integration structures and to combine the potential of the interested Asian countries and, in the future, of Europe as well.

We envisage an important role in the implementation of this initiative for the Eurasian Economic Union, which is steadily establishing itself as the leading mechanism of integration in Eurasia.

The improvement of transport and logistics infrastructure in the region should have an important role. Russia has a wealth of experience in ensuring reliable, continuous and cost-effective operation of global value chains and the compatibility of production and distribution networks.

The geography should be taken into account as well - the shortest goods delivery routes between Asia and Europe pass through Russian territory.

Russia has been consistently pursuing the policy of national transport infrastructure development. The government is supporting major projects of upgrading the Baikal-Amur Mainline and Trans-Siberian Railway. Development of the Far East port complex is underway.

Infrastructure of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok airports is being improved with a view to turn them into major hubs of transcontinental air transportation. Active use of the Northern Sea Route may benefit business.

Russia has proposed the concept of "electronic economy" at the Forum. This refers to a new technological pattern that goes beyond "digital economy" and "Internet economy".

We believe time has come for the Apec to develop new decisions on such issues as regulation of electronic data sets, including classified information protection measures, development of legal and administrative framework for enhancing cross-border e-commerce cooperation that would build people's trust in electronic space.

Our country supports the Apec efforts to develop human capital.

In this context, improvement of higher and secondary technical education systems, which are key for training a highly skilled workforce, is of particular importance.

In this field we also propose to focus to the maximum on implementing innovations, including the use of "e-education" potential. We are ready to collectively explore opportunities for enhancing trans-boundary mobility of students, professors and researchers.

We intend to maintain the annual Apec Conference on Cooperation in Higher Education at the premises of the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) in Vladivostok. We are confident that FEFU will become a leading centre of international scientific and educational communication in the Apec region.

Russia is determined to deepen regional interrelationships in other aspects of the inter-human dimension as well. We fully support intensified regional, tourist, sport, youth, cultural and other exchanges, including through utilising the transport potential of our country.

As an input to the regional discussion, we propose to explore the ways of modernising the micro-, small and medium-size entrepreneurship through expanding business-to-business and business-to-state markets, which means a more active involvement of this group of companies in procurements by large corporations and government contracts.

These ideas are reflected in the Russian initiative on joint research into the ways of modernising the national government procurement mechanisms, and we intend to continue promoting this initiative in Apec.

We welcome the Forum's work to encourage green entrepreneurship. We consider it a major contribution to the implementation of the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Russia fervently supports efforts to develop women's business.

This year, as part of the Apec Women and the Economy Forum in Lima, a contest titled "Business Efficiency and Success Target" (Apec BEST Awards) was organised for women entrepreneurs.

One more priority topic is ensuring food security. We are rightly proud that, in 2012, we were the first to put an emphasis on this issue in the Apec agenda. Russia has - and is ready to share with our partners - a considerable potential in this area.

There is also no doubt that our country will continue to play an important role in strengthening energy security in the region.

There are major projects underway to modernise the existing deposits of hydrocarbons and develop new ones, as well as to enhance oil and gas transportation infrastructure in the Far East, including with a view to increasing energy supplies to the Asia-Pacific region.

We are interested in collaborating within Apec to find solutions to such tasks as enhancement of energy efficiency, diversification of energy balances and development of alternative energy sources, including safe nuclear energy.

It is extremely important that we maintain our joint efforts to fight international terrorism. We fully support provisions of the relevant Apec consolidated strategy.

We strongly believe that the Forum, which provides various economic levers, is bound to make an important contribution to eradicating the terrorist threat, suppressing the financing of terrorist groups and blocking the activities of extremist organisations.

Russia is convinced that the collaboration within APEC has good prospects. We are firmly committed to fair and mutually beneficial cooperation and will continue to play an active role and be a reliable partner in pursuit of promoting a region-wide constructive process to the benefit of our peoples.

* The writer is Russia's foreign minister.