Roundtable meeting of leaders at Belt and Road international forum 2017-05-15 08:00:00 Beijing Vladimir Putin attended the first roundtable meeting of leaders at the Belt and Road international forum, which covered integration issues and the further development of economic partnership. The leaders of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation adopted a joint statement. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President Xi Jinping, colleagues, I listened with great interest to the opening remarks by President Xi Jinping yesterday. He laid out ambitious goals, which I would describe as very impressive. It is obvious that these goals will not be easy to achieve, and that we will have to cover a long road together to achieve them. However, this initiative is fully in keeping with current development trends, and is extremely useful and relevant. This is why Russia has not just supported the Belt and Road initiative but will actively contribute to achieving it with our Chinese partners and the other concerned parties. The creation of an economic development and mutually beneficial trade route between Asia and Europe is a highly relevant and important initiative. It takes into account today’s global economic trends, major economic changes and cargo routes and also reflects the overall demand for coordinating different integration formats in Eurasia and other parts of the world, as has been expressed. It is important that all of the existing integration structures in Eurasia and any new initiatives be based on universal and generally recognised foundations. They must also take into account the specifics of the member states’ national development models and be developed openly and transparently. Colleagues, Russia is focused on the comprehensive development of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). In recent years, this association has made considerable achievements in creating and strengthening a common market with common rules for all economic operators. Of course, we have also encountered problems, which are not uncommon to all the global economies. At the same time, the EAEU has helped us seriously mitigate any negative influence on the member states’ economies and adjust them to new global realities. The EAEU is steadily developing external ties. Some 50 countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America have shown interest in cooperating with it. The Free Trade Agreement between the EAEU and Vietnam came into effect in October 2016. The EAEU is negotiating a trade and economic cooperation agreement with China and a free trade agreement with Israel. Agreements have been reached to launch talks with Egypt, Iran, India, Serbia and Singapore. In May 2015, we reached an agreement with our Chinese friends to combine integration within the EAEU and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project. Overall, we are talking about the so-called greater Eurasian partnership. It provides for developing multilateral cooperation between the countries of the EAEU, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Our goal is to create a system of bilateral and multilateral agreements to facilitate regulation in customs, sanitary and phytosanitary control, industry cooperation and investment, and in protecting intellectual property rights. The development of this partnership will certainly take much time and effort. This process involves a careful combination of different depths, speeds and levels of integration, but we definitely need to do this. In fact, this is what China and President Xi Jinping have proposed at this forum. Ultimately, this will enable us to create a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Thank you.