APEC will promote idea of shift in Russia's trade balance to East

September's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vladivostok should help shift Russia's foreign trade balance toward Asian countries, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said.

European Union member states currently account for 50% of Russia's foreign trade, Shuvalov said at a press briefing in Moscow.

"If our goal is to diversify our economy, become less dependent on raw materials and grow much stronger, the balance should be shifted: countries in the Asia-Pacific region ought to start to account for at least 50% of our foreign trade," he said.

The potential of investment and trade cooperation with Japan, China, South Korea and the United States has not been fulfilled even by a quarter, Shuvalov said.

"This [APEC] forum should help us promote our idea of shifting this balance toward the East," he said.

However, it does not mean that Russia is leaving the West, Shuvalov said, adding that traditional cooperation with the EU will continue.

"This forum is just the beginning of a long and difficult path. We hope that the president will create a specialized format in order to start to vigorously promote this idea among Russian and foreign businesses immediately after the summit," he said.

"The European context" appeared on APEC's agenda after Russia joined the forum, he said.

"We will be able to grow rapidly in the future if we stand firmly on two feet: not just one European foot, but two feet - European and Asian," Shuvalov said.

The summit will also benefit Vladivostok and the Primorye Territory, which will host it, he said.

Waste water treatment facilities and infrastructure conducive to business have been built in Vladivostok, Shuvalov said.

"In effect, we are creating an investment capital of the Far East today," he added.

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