Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on Thursday against U.S. plans to set up a Trans-Pacific Partnership without Russia and China.
“Obviously, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is just another U.S. attempt to build an architecture of regional economic cooperation that the USA would benefit from,” Putin said in an interview with leading Chinese media outlets.
He stressed his firm conviction that the new regional association should necessarily embrace Russia and China. “I believe that the absence of two major regional players such as Russia and China in its composition will not promote the establishment of effective trade and economic cooperation,” he said.
“The multilateral system of economic relations in the Asia-Pacific Region can only be strong if the interests of all states of the region are taken into account,” the President said.
“This approach is reflected in the draft of the Beijing road map for the establishment of an Asia-Pacific free trade area,” he said. “The draft is to be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of APEC leaders /that will be held in Beijing on November 10 and November 11 – TASS/.”
Trans-Pacific Partnership /TPP/, according to the concept of its organizers, should turn into an international trade and economic organization with a possibility of establishing a free trade zone in the huge region.
An idea to set it up was aired in 2003 by New Zealand, Singapore and Chile. These three countries and Brunei signed a founding agreement on the TPP in 2004.
The U.S. took interest in the project in 2008 but neither the Americans nor other nations have undersigned the founding agreement so far and are holding negotiations. Some experts think the TPP might take on the role of an alternative to APEC.
Putin indicated that it was not yet easy to evaluate the Trans-Pacific Partnership progress. “This initiative is carried out behind closed doors, even businesses and the public of the contracting states have no access to it, let alone other countries,” he said.
The President recalled that over the past five years of negotiations, “we have repeatedly heard about the success achieved but such statements have always been refuted later.”
“Last time this happened on the threshold of the APEC summit in Bali in November 2013,” Putin went on. “Looks like it was a question of continuing the negotiations, which have been “frozen” for over a year now. Dates for the resumption of negotiations have not been announced.”
Along with it, he indicated that conclusion of different regional free trade agreements was one of the global trends.
“It is no coincidence that this practice is widespread in the Asia-Pacific Region, which is becoming the center of global economic and political activity,” he said. “Today there are about 70 such agreements, and a number of projects are underway.”
Russia was seeking to strengthen regional economic integration, Putin said, adding the Russian leadership believed that free trade agreements were not to fragment the multilateral trading system, but rather to complement it, “to contribute to its consolidation and growth of interconnectedness.”
“The regional unions should not be turned against each other or otherwise divided,” Putin said. “Such agreements should be transparent, fair and address the needs of each economy. Regional integration should be transparent and promote information-sharing between all the negotiations processes.”
“We pay special attention to this approach in the implementation of our priority integration project – the Eurasian Economic Union,” Putin said. “Values and principles of this association’s activities are transparent and carried out in full compliance with the rules and regulations of the World Trade Organization.