Russia and the APEC summit

With APEC leaders, including Russia's President Medvedev, going straight from the G20 summit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, Business RT spoke with Yaroslav Lissovolik, Chief Economist at Deutsche Bank Russia.

­RT:  Lots of tough talking but no agreements made at G20 – can we expect more from APEC?

YL: "I think, more.  I think there will be more decisions, more concrete decisions.  So far, unfortunately, a lot of the things we have seen from G20 has been pretty general, even the commitments with respect to not using protectionist measures have not been adhered to strictly.  I think we should be expecting more from the APEC because this is more of a regional block, as opposed to more of a global organization – the G20.  Regional issues are likely to be addressed more forcefully I think, by the neighbors in the region, and the Asian Pacific region."

RT:  Can we expect the APEC to address such issues as trade imbalances – perhaps by curbing barriers to regional trade?

YL:  "I think that’s really the biggest question, the biggest issue, with regard to this APEC summit.  Because perhaps, one of the biggest ways in which these global imbalances could be addressed, would be by more liberalization rather than more protectionism or greater state involvement.  And say, with respect to trade liberalization, part of the liberalization would have to be done by developed countries, but also by countries such as China, and some of the other countries in the region, because that, in turn, would, perhaps, lead to some resolution of this trade imbalance, that we see, whereby China has a very high trade surplus.  And perhaps greater imports into the region could somehow help to solve the situation."

RT:  There are lots of people waiting to see if the leaders of China and Japan will meet at the APEC summit – What role does china play at this APEC summit?

YL:  “I think it’s a key role, a central role.  Clearly in terms of investment flows, in terms of trade flows, this is one of the decisive players in the world economy.  I think what we will look for would be, first of all, of course, the central issue, the exchange rate regime in China.  But I think, probably, we won’t see that much radical change there.  Traditionally we have seen that if China makes a decision, changes tend to be quite gradual, and then, of course, the better way to address those imbalances will be through trade, and China has a significant role to play, by opening up itself.  But also I think it is a country that is very much interested in having a lot of the neighbors in this region open up in terms of trade and investment as well.”  

RT:  What exactly does Russia seek at this summit?

YL:  "I think this is an important summit for Russia because, previously in the past 10-20 years, Russia’s foreign economic policy was, I would say excessively, Eurocentric.  It was excessively centred on Europe, on trying to boost ties with the west.  To some degree this APEC summit is a way for Russia to rebalance its trade policy, and seek more integration, more openness, trade flows and investment flows in the east.  To some degree I think there is potential for that, and obviously Russia is also interested in using this greater trade integration within the APEC region to boost the development of its Far East region, which so far is probably one of the most underdeveloped regions in Russia."