Russia’s integration in the Asia Pacific Region

Igor Melamed: Director of the International Centre for Regional Development

Over the past three years, Russia has signed a number of major trade agreements aimed at the integration of RUSSIA in the Asia-Pacific region- which is a very difficult region of the world with enormous contrasts and complex processes.

The attitude of the federal authorities to the far East has changed dramatically, as evidenced by the development of a separate strategy for this region and the Baikal region, and a new federal program with a substantial amount of funding. These documents have provided new opportunities for Russian energy: at the end of 2009 year started to operate the pipeline system Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean “. In addition, opening of the first in the country a liquefied gas super factory in Sakhalin, which allowed Russia to control about 5% of the global LNG market. In 2011 commissioned a branch of the oil pipeline ‘Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean’ from the Russian port Skovorodino to China’s Daqing – it is export of additional 15 million tons of oil a year. Before running the pipeline Russia supplied crude oil to China only by rail.

Recently Russia signed an agreement on supplying electricity to China. While this is not a complete implementation of the planned project, but already today Russia has the ability to “reset” the excess of its power system in China. In the strategy of development of the Far East and Baikal region, signed in December 29, 2009, there are many large-scale projects, which should change the face of the region. First of all, this construction of Vostochny Cosmodrome in area 1thousand square meters. km. There will be approximately 3000 objects build to be 50000 people, a city of 200 thousand people will be built.

Obviously, the project of ​​South Primorye development will be a key maritime project, ‘the Russian Hong Kong’, which will create, including, and an international financial center. But first of all, it will be the transport, logistics, intellectual center with certain customs preferences. It was planned a number of projects the construction of major facilities refineries, shipyards, etc.

A special role envisaged for Vladivostok as a center of communication between Russia and Asia-Pacific. This will be an international city and intellectual center, as its nearest neighbors Hong Kong and Singapore. It is clear that the concentration of intellectual life in Vladivostok will be, above all, far eastern Federal University (FEFU) is the main center of support policies and strategies throughout the far east of Russia. The University performs a role intelligent resource for development cooperation in the Asia Pacific region. To a certain extent, the University has already engaged in this work: issued a federal strategy for a mass readership, has produced a systematic monograph “prospects of cooperation of Russia with the APR started producing huge series -‘Russia in the Asia-Pacific region, the prospects for integration’, two of them have already been published.

This series unite a large group of authors, including the FEFU, RCI APEC, many other academic institutions. For example, the financial volume was written under the direction of Victor Gerashchenko.

Monograph provides  a definition of what we mean by APR and ATRAM (APR plus Pacific countries of North and South America). There are 44 States that in one way or another, covered bonds and processes in the region. In fact, the percentage of states in the Asia Pacific region, and more so in АТРАМ, the most dominant in the world in all the processes – this is the fastest growing region in the world. We see a big difference between Russia and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. For example, in Russia: much colder with an average annual temperature of -2 degrees it looks “pole of cold” for all ATRAM States. In comparison, in Canada, 5 in Chile 13, and they understand the APR is already cold. And the average annual temperature of the far East is 5 with minus. And when, for example, deals with intensive technologies of cultivation of wheat, it’s not interesting for them — and China with its annual average temperatures of 24, and Japan with 21. There are a number of other problems — how to deal with a rainy season, or how to shoot a fourth rice harvest, and not think about how to deal with the 10-month-long Russian winters.

This climatic fact sharply distinguishes Russia from other States in the Asia-Pacific region.

There is the UN methodology, which determines where the man should live. According to it, a huge area of ​​the Far East – these are areas  where generally live is not recommended. Thus, in the far East development strategy, taking into account the density of highways, railways, had to make “in the territories, suitable for living.”

Another important parameter to understand the place of Russia in the Asia-Pacific region, the average age of the population. The vast majority of States in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan and the United States, Russia) is a young State, where the average age is 19, and 21-year birth rates are quite different.

In fact, in the APR are not many markets where Russia can find its place. It isthe markets for food, fuel and energy, transportation, and military-technical cooperation. The main market for Russia – it is, of course, the market of energy resources that are in the structure of exports to Russia, according to customs  in 2011 make up  to 70-72%. The second product group-metals (roughly 10% of Russian exports). Then comes the products of the chemical industry, especially fertilizer. As regards the share of Asia Pacific countries Russia’s exports, the supply of oil in the direction of the Pacific is only 15%, oil – 10%, gas – 7%.Obviously, there are real opportunities to increase our exports. This is very important as a politically and strategically – for the entire region.

Translation by Marina Osipova, APIR Center

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