The agenda of the summit, chaired by New Zealand, contains items on post-pandemic economic recovery of the region’s countries and APEC’s key areas of work to 2040.
Following the summit, the participants adopted a Final 2021 APEC Economic Leaders’ Declaration and the Aotearoa Plan of Action.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Madam Chairperson, colleagues,
Like the other speakers, first I would like to thank our partners from New Zealand, the current chair of the APEC forum, for the work they carried out this year in the difficult conditions of the pandemic.
In particular, the idea to hold an extraordinary APEC summit in July to discuss the fight against the coronavirus was timely and useful.
Logically, our current discussion is focused on issues of socioeconomic recovery and overcoming the pandemic with a view to ensuring sustainable and long-term growth in the Asia-Pacific.
As International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva noted, there are still many problems, however the global economy is gradually emerging from the crisis. Indeed, recent forecasts show that by the end of this year the world GDP will have increased by 5.9 percent. Moreover, this figure will be even higher for the APEC economies – an average of 6.4 percent.
As for Russia, we have already returned to pre-pandemic levels in terms of GDP growth, and in our estimate, it will be up 4.7 percent in 2021. Of course, this is not the highest figure in the region, but it is not the lowest, either. It is a good figure for our economy.
At the same time, many socioeconomic and other problems, which you, colleagues, have already spoken about, persist in the Asia-Pacific and in the world. The coronavirus itself is far from being defeated yet. New, even more dangerous strains of this virus may still appear. So, it is no exaggeration to say that it is vitally important not to slacken our efforts in countering the pandemic and doing everything necessary to strengthen healthcare systems in our countries and improve their resource and technological basis. Naturally, a substantial build-up of international cooperation in the medical and pharmaceutical areas would facilitate the solution to these ambitious goals.
The role of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is becoming increasingly important in this context. Its activities certainly deserve all-round support. It is unacceptable to take actions that can encroach on the prerogatives of the WHO, which operates under the aegis of the United Nations.
With our common support, the WHO can conduct large-scale immunisation with greater intensity because, unfortunately, as some speakers have also noted here, many countries that need vaccines have no access to them.
This is happening for several reasons, including unfair competition, protectionism, and some counties’ lack of willingness to mutually recognise vaccines and vaccine certificates. The WHO could expedite the procedures for pre-qualification of new vaccines and medications, that is, an assessment of their quality, safety and efficiency.
At the recent G20 summit, Russia suggested to its partners studying the issue of the mutual recognition of national vaccines and certificates as soon as possible. I am confident that the sooner this is done the easier it will be to fully restore global business, tourism and other activities.
I would like to emphasise that our country continues helping all countries who need it with supplies of vaccines, medications, equipment, test systems and individual protection gear.
Russia, as is well known, was the first in the world to register an anti-COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V. As of today, it has been approved in 71 countries with a total population of over four billion people. It has demonstrated its high safety and high efficacy.
Apart from the Sputnik V two-component vaccine, Russia developed and is using a one-component vaccine, Sputnik Light, which can be used, among other things, to boost the effectiveness of other vaccines. We also offer it to our partners.
The pandemic has revealed that it is of paramount importance for all nations to have free and non-discriminatory access to vitally important goods, services, resources and technology.
Russia opposes protectionism in the global economy and trade and advocates an end to the use of unilateral and politically motivated restrictions for the sake of fighting for markets and removing competitors. We firmly believe that maintaining and enhancing the multilateral trade system, with the World Trade Organisation at its core, is in the interests of the entire international community.
In late November, Geneva will host the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, with representatives from all of our economies taking part. I would suggest guiding them towards working out compromise agreements in trade which will contribute to the expansion of reciprocal economic and technological exchanges. Russia is ready to make its contribution to this work.
Our country is also keen on the closest cooperation with APEC economies on digitalisation. Digital technologies are a good foundation in resolving the comprehensive task of enhancing connectivity in the Asia-Pacific, and in developing infrastructure, and transport and logistical corridors.
We consider that priority areas of cooperation among the APEC members on the digital track include the exchange of advanced experience in introducing digital technologies to traditional economic sectors, training relevant personnel, perfecting the regulatory framework of the information sphere, developing communication systems and communication lines, and the use of AI.
Naturally, in discussing cooperation issues among the APEC economies to resolve pressing global and regional problems we must consider the fact that climate change is a very serious challenge.
At one time, APEC endorsed, at Russia’s initiative, a list of products that contribute to environmental protection and help conserve natural resources. The economies of the forum committed to provide preferential trade requirements for these products. So, we certainly support the proposal by New Zealand’s chairmanship to expand the list of these commodities. Russian experts will take a most active part in this work.
In general, we believe that trade policy can do more to counter global warming and encourage the introduction of advanced technology to reduce greenhouse emissions.
At the same time, the global economy’s adaption to new, tougher environmental requirements and the transition to “clean” energy sources should take into account the entire range of issues of socioeconomic development and strictly rest on universal agreements set forth in the UN framework.
All these urgent issues of APEC cooperation are reflected in the Final 2021 APEC Economic Leaders’ Declaration and the Plan for implementing long-term APEC development goals to 2040. These documents have been prepared for endorsement following the summit. Russia certainly supports them. We believe both documents are a good foundation for further promoting cooperation within forum in the search for collective responses to the most pressing challenges and threats in the Asia-Pacific Region.
I would like to make one more point that we consider important. Greater coordination with other regional forums and organisations with a consonant agenda would make APEC’s performance more effective. I am referring to the Eurasian Economic Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Countries and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Russia will do all it can to facilitate this. In general, we intend to take a most active part in developing constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation in the entire vast Asia-Pacific space.
In conclusion, I would like to wish success to our friends from Thailand that are taking over the APEC chairmanship. You can certainly rely on our support and assistance.
Thank you for your attention.