Putin touts free trade, science at APEC speech

President Vladimir Putin touted Russia’s accomplishments and efforts at breaking down trade barriers in a major speech at the APEC summit in Vladivostok. “Economic integration projects got an impetus during the crisis,” he said, referencing the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

He said “we want to create a powerhouse of regional development” with the Common Economic Space, expected to be ratified between Customs Union members in 2015. Putin also reiterated that negotiations over a free trade zone with Vietnam and New Zealand are under way.

However, Putin also stressed that both the Customs Union and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) free trade agreement were formed on the basis of WTO rules in hopes that would raise investors’ confidence when working there.

He also emphasized the importance of science and education to building Russia’s new economy, referencing the newly constructed Far Eastern Federal University (where the summit is being hosted) as an example of attempts to generate “educational powerhouses” in the Far East.

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