Russia’s Far East seizes the moment ahead of APEC

Russia's Far East could attract $100 Billion dollars of investment with Vladivostok hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2012. Spending on the summit has already boosted the economy of the region.

It's been deemed one of the most ambitious construction projects in Russia.With nearly $2 billion invested and thousands of people involved, it's not only helping the whole of Primorsky Region overcome the financial crisis, but actually become one of the few in Russia to show economic growth.

New roads, bridges, hotels and other infrastructure are often being built from scratch to get Vladivostok ready for 2012 when the city is set to host the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin says the APEC event offers the chance for transformation of the region.

“This is a unique chance for the city, which we can’t afford to miss. The large scale construction programme in the Far East can be viewed as a key anti crisis measure, a way to create jobs in construction and adjoining spheres. And it would not be confined to Far East only, but will influence all the country, as the construction materials and metals come from around Russia.”

Modernizing and expanding the local airport is part of the plan. Construction is in full swing with a new airstrip nearing completion. When finished, the airport will not only play a major role during the summit, but is planned to turn into an international transport hub which will help deliver more cargo into the region and let thousands of people travel directly to places they need to go, without changing flights.

The summit will be held on the Russky island which used to be a military base, was closed to the public for many years, and can still only be reached by boat.

Several bridges are being built to connect it to the mainland, including a one kilometre long suspension bridge – the longest of its type in the world. A whole new university complex is also being constructed, which besides classrooms, libraries and labs will include a hotel for five and a half thousand guests and sport facilities.

The plans include a new medical centre, an opera house, new sewer and water cleaning systems in Vladivostok, new housing and more.

12 projects in total and according to the government their financing will not be affected by the economic turbulence with over two billion dollars more planned to be allocated next year. Vyacheslav Karpov, General Director of Biaton, says it’s a stroke of luck for the region.

“I think, we are in the right place at the right time, because taking into the account growth or rather the falling construction in the whole of the country. Also, with our partners in Central Russia, whose factories are closing, we think, the summit will only help our course.”

Due to the current financial situation the government is keen to use new technologies which will save time and money without reducing quality. A temporary customs point will even be constructed to ease the importation of construction materials.

Nowhere is being more radically transformed than Russky island. For many years it was nothing but a remote island with poor infrastructure, and forgotten by the mainland. Now as it prepares to host the summit, it's become a huge construction site. Planned to help Vladivostok become the gateway to the Far East, the government says it should not only boost relations with foreign partners, but help solve many domestic issues.