Russia views the establishment of free trade areas ignoring interests of neighboring countries as counterproductive and favors closer relations between the Belarusian-Kazakh-Russian Customs Union and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an article written for the upcoming APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia.
"It is counterproductive to develop free trade zones for they ignore the interests of other countries, especially regional neighbors. This is the approach Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan as member states of the Customs Union are committed to," Lavrov says.
"We believe that interaction between the Customs Union and APEC could serve our common interests," he says.
"By now, we have made significant progress in establishing a powerful regional development centre - the Single Economic Space - aiming at creating the Eurasian Economic Union by January 1, 2015 and thereby forging a link between Europe and the Asia Pacific," the minister says.
"Support of the multilateral trading system and attaining the Bogor Goals remain the key tasks. Development of a network of free trade agreements forms the essential basis to implement them," he says.
"Russia closely tracks the dynamics of cooperation in this area which takes place within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Trans-Pacific Partnership and other formats. We consider it important that these agreements should cope with the WTO principles and be as open as possible for all," Lavrov said.
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