Monday, November 27, 2017

Russia Can Solve All Economic Problems Itself -- F. William Engdahl

Dear Readers,

For this installment of my free geopolitical newsletter I want to share a piece I wrote in the midst of the US and EU economic sanctions war against the Russian Federation in late 2015. In it I outline the history of how Washington and the International Monetary Fund robbed the new post-Soviet Russian Federation under Boris Yeltsin of the very core essentially of economic sovereignty, namely the state’s control over money issue. They did so through the aid of government insiders who had bet their personal futures on siding with Western “shock therapy” economists against the interests of their own country and its people.

In this piece I outline my proposal for generating state-initiated--but Soviet-style controlled-- economic growth in urgently-needed basic infrastructure. It draws on how federal Germany after World War II financed its own reconstruction using state institutions of subsidized credit such as the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (Credit Institute for Reconstruction) during the 1950s to stimulate what became known by the 1960s as the German Economic Miracle. It was no miracle, rather an appreciation of the role of public banks and directed credit into select economic infrastructure. For those of you interested in a deeper treatment of the history of the Russian Federation during the tumult of the Yeltsin era of the 1990’s and the incredible measures Washington took to destroy Russia as a functioning nation state, you should watch for the appearance soon of my newest book, Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance.

For a better reading experience I converted the text to a pfd-file which You can find in the attachment of this mail. It's 7 pages in A4 format.

I also encourage you to consider making a support contribution at my website,, that I am able to continue offering my content for free.

Thank you again for your interest,
F. William Engdahl
Frankfurt, Germany

Russia Can Solve All Economic Problems Itself
F. William Engdahl  
November, 2015

Since Washington and the EU imposed hostile and unwarranted financial and economic sanctions on Russia after the spring of 2014, President Putin and the Russian government have made many sometimes brilliant moves to respond to the de facto acts of financial warfare. However, they have avoided dealing with fundamental deeper distortions and vulnerabilities in the Russian economy and monetary order. Failure to do so in the future could prove to be Russia’s Achilles Heel if not addressed. Fortunately, Russia can do something about it even before an alternative currency to the US dollar is at hand. It requires simply a bit of consequent rethinking about the situation.

The key to Russia’s economy, to any economy for that matter, is the question of who controls the issue and circulation of credit or money, and whether they do it to serve, directly or indirectly, private special interests or for the common national economic good.

Chaos swept the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. In July 1990, one of the first acts of “democrat” and Western media hero, Boris Yeltsin, the newly elected President of the Russian Soviet Socialist republic, one month after declaring independence from the USSR, was to create the independent Central Bank of The Russian Federation. That was one of the first acts, fully three years before formal adoption of a new Russian constitution in 1993, where the independent role of the Central Bank of Russia would be outlined in Article 75.

At the time US hedge fund speculator, George Soros, had brought Jeffrey Sachs and Sweden’s Anders Aaslund to Russia to “guide” Yeltsin “shock therapy” advisers such as Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais. Together, along with pressure from the IMF, they turned the country into an impossible chaos and economic collapse for most of the 1990’s. Pensions were wiped out as the Russian National Bank under the leadership of Viktor Gerashchenko, printed endless supplies of worthless rubles, creating a mammoth hyperinflation of prices. A handful of favored Russian oligarchs close to the Yeltsin family, such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Boris Berezovsky, became staggeringly wealthy oligarchs while the vast majority barely survived. This was the social petri dish in which the Article 75 mandating the new Central Bank of the Russian Federation was formally adopted.

The Russian Central Bank, which is today a member of the western-controlled Bank for International Settlements in Basle, has the explicit constitutional mandate to be an independent entity, with primary responsibility of protecting the stability of the national currency, the ruble. It also holds exclusive right to issue ruble banknotes and coins. That’s de facto life and death power over Russia’s economy.

With Article 75 the Russian Federation de facto gave away sovereignty over her most essential power–the power to issue money and create credit. Amid the horror of hyperinflation which few Russian citizens understood was a deliberate strategy of Gerashchenko and his Western advisers, a strict, politically “independent” US-style central bank seemed an urgency. It was in fact a trap.

Today that central bank trap has come home to haunt President Putin, his government and the Russian people as a US-imposed financial warfare and targeted sanctions forced the Central Bank to raise key interest rates December 2014 threefold to 17% to try to defend a ruble in free-fall. Today, despite a significant stabilization of the ruble, central bank rates remain a severe 11%.

The Russian Central Bank, no matter how patriotic the person running it, is a monetarist institution not an arm of sovereign state policy. To keep the Ruble “stable” means stable against the US dollar or the Euro. That means the independent Russian Central Bank is de facto hostage to the US dollar, hardly an ideal circumstance in the current state of de facto war by other means underway from NATO, the US Treasury Department, the CIA, Pentagon and US neoconservative warhawk circles.

During the June 2015 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum I was told by a quite senior Russian government minister that there was an intense internal debate inside the government and around Putin’s advisers, about re-establishing a public national bank, as opposed to the independent BIS-modelled central bank imposed by the West on Russia in 1990.

National Development Bonds

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a working visit to Russia

On November 20, President Vladimir Putin had talks with President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad who was in Russia on a working visit.
November 21, 2017

With President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad.
Vladimir Putin also introduced Bashar al-Assad to senior officials of the Russian Defence Ministry and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces who were in Sochi to attend another series of meetings on military construction and the State Armament Programme.
* * *
Beginning of meeting with President of Syria Bashar al-Assad
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
Welcome to Sochi. First, let me congratulate you on Syria’s results in combating terrorist groups as well as on the fact that the Syrian people, despite a very difficult ordeal, are gradually moving towards the final and inevitable defeat of the terrorists.
Mr President, as you know, I will meet with my colleagues – the presidents of Turkey and Iran – here in Sochi the day after tomorrow. We have agreed to hold additional consultations with you during our meeting. Of course, the main subject on the agenda is a peaceful and lasting political settlement in Syria after the routing of the terrorists.
As you know, in addition to the partners I have mentioned we are also working closely together with other countries, such as Iraq, the United States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. We maintain constant contact with these partners.
I would like to talk with you about the basic principles of the political process and the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, the idea of which you have supported. I would like to hear your opinions on the current situation and development prospects and your views on the political process, which should ultimately be implemented under the UN auspices. We also hope that the UN will join the [political] process at its final stage.
I am glad to see you. Welcome to Russia.
President of Syria Bashar al-Assad (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President.
I am very glad to have this opportunity to meet with you two years and several weeks after Russia launched a very successful operation.
Over this period, we have achieved major success both on the battlefield and on the political track. Many regions in Syria have been liberated from the terrorists, and the Syrians who had to flee from these regions can now return there.
It should be acknowledged that the operation brought progress to the political settlement in Syria. And the process which was started and which Russia promoted with various efforts continues, above all, based on respect for the UN Charter, the state’s sovereignty and independence. This stance has been defended at various international platforms, including the talks in Astana. The same goes for the plans to hold the Syrian National Dialogue Conference in a few days. Today we have an excellent opportunity to discuss both the upcoming conference and the upcoming summit, and to coordinate our views on the next steps.
First, I would like to take an opportunity and pass congratulations and gratitude from the Syrian people to you, Mr President, for our joint success in defending Syria’s territorial integrity and independence. We would like to extend our gratitude to those institutions of the Russian state that provided assistance – primarily, the Russian Defence Ministry that has supported us throughout this operation. Also I would like to pass our gratitude to the Russian people who remain a friendly nation to us. They have supported us all along.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: You mentioned the Astana talks. I also think they were quite a success. Thanks to the Astana process we managed to create de-escalation zones, which allowed us to start the first real and in-depth dialogue with the opposition.
Based on the outcome of this meeting, I will consult further with the leaders of the countries I just mentioned. A conversation with the Emir of Qatar is scheduled for today. Tomorrow, I am speaking with US President Donald Trump. After that, I am speaking with the leaders of the countries in the region.
As you know, the so-called Riyadh opposition group will hold a meeting in Riyadh on November 22–23. Our representative, Mr Lavrentyev, will attend the opening and closing of this meeting, as well as a news conference, as a special presidential envoy. Therefore, I believe that our meeting today is a very good opportunity to coordinate our approaches on all settlement issues. I am glad that we can do this.
Bashar al-Assad: At this stage, and especially after our victories over the terrorists, we are interested in promoting the political process. We believe that the political situation that has developed in the regions offers an opportunity for progress in the political process. We hope Russia will support us by ensuring the external players’ non-interference in the political process, so that they will only support the process waged by the Syrians themselves.
We do not want to look back. We will accept and talk with anyone who is really interested in a political settlement.
Vladimir Putin: Very good. You have mentioned the completion of the military operation. I believe that terrorism is a global problem and the fight against it is, of course, far from over. As for our joint efforts against the terrorists in Syria, this military operation is nearing completion indeed.
I believe that the main task now is to launch the political process. I am glad that you are ready to work with anyone who wants peace and conflict resolution.
With President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad at a meeting with senior officials of the Russian Defence Ministry and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
With President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad at a meeting with senior officials of the Russian Defence Ministry and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
Meeting with senior officials of the Defence Ministry and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces
Vladimir Putin: I have asked the President of Syria to attend our meeting.
I want him to see those who have played the key role in saving Syria.
Of course, Mr Assad knows some of you personally. He told me at our talks today that the Russian Army has saved Syria as a state. Much has been done to stabilise the situation in Syria. I hope that we will close the chapter on the fight against terrorism in Syria, although some seats of tension will remain or will flare up again.
There are more than enough problems with terrorism in the world, including in the Middle East and Syria. But our main mission is almost accomplished, and I hope we will be able to say that we have accomplished it soon.
We have held very substantial talks with the President of Syria today on all aspects related to normalisation, including subsequent steps on the political track. As you know, we will hold a trilateral meeting here in Sochi. However, I would like to say that conditions for a political process could not have been created without the armed forces, without your efforts and the efforts and heroism of your subordinates. This goal has been achieved thanks to the Russian Armed Forces and our Syrian friends on the battlefield. Thank you for this.
Bashar al-Assad (retranslated): President of Russia Vladimir Putin and I have just held talks. I have conveyed to him, and on his behalf to the Russian people, our gratitude for Russia’s efforts to save our country.
I would like to highlight the contribution of the Russian Armed Forces and the sacrifices they have made to achieve this goal. I was very glad to learn that you, those of you who were directly involved in the operation [in Syria] and who commanded the activities of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria will be present here today.
The operation barely started when I met with President Putin in Moscow two years ago. In the two years since then we can see the success that has been achieved thanks to cooperation between the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Army. Nobody can deny this success in the fight against terrorism now. Thanks to your actions, as well as the actions of the Syrian Army and our allies, many Syrians have returned home.
Speaking on behalf of the Syrian people, I would like to express our gratitude for what you have accomplished. We will never forget this. Also, I would like to thank personally President Vladimir Putin, [Defence Minister] Sergei Shoigu and [Chief of the General Staff] Valery Gerasimov for their direct involvement in this operation.
Thank you very much.

Meeting on supporting talented youth in arts

Vladimir Putin held a meeting on identifying, supporting and training talented youth in the arts.
November 17, 2017
St Petersburg

Meeting on supporting talented youth in arts.
The meeting was held in the New Stage building of the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre.
Opening speech at the meeting on identifying, supporting and training talented youth in the arts
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends, colleagues.
Today, I suggest that we discuss ways to support young people. As you are aware, we have been paying much attention to this area in recent years across many different spheres, including research activities, creative projects and blue-collar professions. We are covering different areas.
Today, I would like to talk about things that are close to you, and discuss ways to support young talented people who are being trained or are taking their first steps in the arts. Of course, this is one of the most important areas.
Long-standing and rich traditions of creativity, great schools of theatre, art, ballet, and music are certainly part of our national heritage. Russia continues to hold strong, if not leading positions in this area. The state, cultural figures and the public should not just preserve these traditions, but build on them and ensure continuity.
This is a prerequisite for the harmonious, mature, and free development of our society and our entire country. Our competitiveness in culture and the arts will be just as important for our future, which is taking shape literally before our eyes, as in the spheres that I have just mentioned, primarily, the hard sciences, technology, and the like.
We are now forming an entire system aimed at identifying and discovering young talents. I have already mentioned these areas which include science, engineering, and blue-collar professions, and, of course, sports. We should focus on supporting them as they make their first steps in their careers, which are sometimes the most difficult. Our discussion today is also designed to elicit suggestions for innovative and more effective approaches.
It is obvious that working with talented and creative young people, especially in a sphere like culture, requires additional flexibility and unusual approaches, as well as doing away with standardised templates, mechanical uniformity and other such things. We should not narrow the training of creative professionals down to simple “educational services.”
I have heard people criticise this phrase many times. You know, it is impossible to get away from it completely, I understand this, but I also understand that this is something bigger than just a service. By the way, our colleagues in healthcare say the same thing.
According to expert assessments, we have accumulated a whole host of problems, which must be solved to preserve the high level of training in the arts. The most important of them is the so-called sectoral approach we have now, which means categorising culture as part of the social sphere only, which has been the traditional approach.
According to many of your colleagues, its norms and rules, including financing methods, target indicators and current tender and accounting systems have become something like a Procrustean bed for culture.
Perhaps this view is debatable, but we can partly agree with it, of course, it is not groundless.
Let us spend some time on this issue, as well as other aspects, and I am ready to talk about them. Let us discuss what measures are necessary to create the most favourable approach to developing culture in general and education in this area in particular.
I would also like to discuss the issue of financial support for professional training in creative fields. Let me note that the initiative of the participants of the Tavrida National Youth Forum has already been implemented. They proposed, if you remember – maybe some took notice – to give talented people an opportunity to receive a second degree in culture and the arts free of charge. Today it is prohibited by law.
There are 20 additional grants for that, which will be provided each year on a competitive basis. The application for them has already been reviewed at the Presidential Grants Foundation.
I would like to stress that these grants will be added to the money, big money in fact, that the foundation already allocates for projects in culture and the arts. Non-profit organisations have received 621 million rubles for this this year alone.
Let us also discuss which measures we should take to increase the quality of training creative professionals and to create the necessary conditions to form the next generation worthy of Russian art.
Who would like to begin?
Vladimir Putin: I am not going to make a closing speech now, but I would like to reassure you that we will try to summarize all that has been said and we will respond to it as soon as possible.
These open [procurement] tenders that Mr Zaslavsky and many colleagues have mentioned, they are not necessary for everything aside from general everyday items such as paper clips, curtains and chairs, which can be purchased at open tenders, and this should be done.
But the rest, everything related to creative activities, does not fit into this Procrustean bed as I have mentioned, and it is not possible to fit it there. Therefore, amendments certainly need to be made.
As regards the arts and culture in the education system being assigned to some department, I think you are right to a large extent. Once more, I do not wish to try and solve these issues on the spot. But we will work towards this.
Lastly, Mr Matsuyev began and Mr Bashmet finished speaking about discovering and training talented young people. This all depends on funding. We have already discussed this with our colleagues, and I propose adding a new element to the presidential grants system –support for talented young people to help them take their first steps without thinking about money.
Denis Matsuyev said his grandmother had to sell her apartment. So we must make sure young people have opportunities, because not everyone has parents who can do such things and grandmothers who can sell something. And there are talented young people – musicians, actors, authors – and we must provide assistance to them.
This is the first part. And the second part of this grant should go to discovering talented young people. We will make this addition to presidential grants an annual thing; it will amount to one billion rubles.
Thank you very much!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Statement by the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States of America

November 11, 2017
On the sidelines of the 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. With President of the United States Donald Trump.

President Trump and President Putin today, meeting on the margins of the APEC conference in Danang, Vietnam, confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria. They expressed their satisfaction with successful US-Russia enhanced de-confliction efforts between US and Russian military professionals that have dramatically accelerated ISIS’s losses on the battlefield in recent months. The Presidents agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both US and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS. They confirmed these efforts will be continued until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved.
The Presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. They confirmed that the ultimate political solution to the conflict must be forged through the Geneva process pursuant to UNSCR 2254. They also took note of President Assad’s recent commitment to the Geneva process and constitutional reform and elections as called for under UNSCR 2254. The two Presidents affirmed that these steps must include full implementation of UNSCR 2254, including constitutional reform and free and fair elections under UN supervision, held to the highest international standards of transparency, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate. The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, as defined in UNSCR 2254, and urged all Syrian parties to participate actively in the Geneva political process and to support efforts to ensure its success.
Finally President Trump and President Putin confirmed the importance of de-escalation areas as an interim step to reduce violence in Syria, enforce ceasefire agreements, facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and set the conditions for the ultimate political solution to the conflict. They reviewed progress on the ceasefire in southwest Syria that was finalized the last time the two Presidents met in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017. The two presidents, today, welcomed the Memorandum of Principles concluded in Amman, Jordan, on November 8, 2017, between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America. This Memorandum reinforces the success of the ceasefire initiative, to include the reduction, and ultimate elimination of foreign forces and foreign fighters from the area to ensure a more sustainable peace. Monitoring this ceasefire arrangement will continue to take place through the Amman Monitoring Center, with participation by expert teams from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States.
The two Presidents discussed the ongoing need to reduce human suffering in Syria and called on all UN member states to increase their contributions to address these humanitarian needs over the coming months.

Vietnam, Danang, November 10, 2017

APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting wrapped up in Vietnam

The 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting ended in Danang.
November 11, 2017
On the sidelines of the 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. With President of the United States Donald Trump.

On the second day of the Meeting, the APEC leaders reviewed the prospects for the global economy with Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde.

During the business breakfast, a discussion was held on establishing an Asia-Pacific free trade zone and a possible expansion of the APEC membership.

The final meeting focused on investments and new driving forces in international trade.

A joint declaration on the results of the forum was approved. The 2017 APEC economic leaders assessed the current regional and global economic situation, agreed on the ways to deepen cooperation, identified a number of tasks for next year.

November 11, 2017

In addition, the President of Russia had a conversation with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the Meeting. The two leaders approved a joint statement on Syria.

After the completion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Vladimir Putin answered questions from Russian journalists.
* * *

Transcript of meeting with Russian journalists

Question: Good afternoon. The APEC summit is about to end. I would like to ask about your assessment of the work with the leaders, and possibly some organisational matters.In line with APEC traditions, a final document has been adopted. How did this work progress? There were probably some disagreements.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Regarding organisation, Vietnam has done everything possible for us to work comfortably and has undoubtedly created a very good atmosphere. This is number one.

Second. Concerning the summit’s theme – it is a highly relevant topic. You know – since most of the journalists here are Russian – we pay much attention to the digital economy in Russia in its different aspects and manifestations, and we consider problems from different angles.

I think it is vitally important that Vietnam raised exactly this topic because we should not only discuss some of the issues together but also resolve them together. It is impossible to do it alone.

For example, there is much talk about small and medium-sized businesses, and micro business, but we have to realise how it can be integrated in the overall system, the general operational chain of the modern economy, the information economy.

What needs to be done to achieve that? Russia had specific proposals in this respect, and I voiced them. It concerns the very definition of the conceptual apparatus – what is digital economy, what is digital trade and so forth. It seems very simple at first glance but in fact it requires careful analysis.

Or, take another example: we must understand the social consequences of new technologies. Some people say that it is dangerous and frightening since a lot of jobs will become redundant, and it is unclear what should be done about it. Others say there is no problem; we will just need retraining.

But it requires an expert assessment, it requires working with trade unions, international experts and the International Labour Organisation, the ILO. All of this was a subject for our discussion.

Other issues were also discussed, of course, including the fight against terrorism and the situation on global energy markets. We have just talked about it during business lunch.

We also spoke about the future of APEC. Mutual trade grew many-fold during the organisation’s lifetime. This basically shows the efficiency of the organisation.

We discussed the need to further liberalise markets and build up relations within a common and open market. Although some think that it is too early to talk about it because of the different levels of the member states’ economies.

Ms Lagarde’s report on the global economic situation was very interesting. We know that the global economy keeps growing and the mid-term forecast is good. But according to her there are risks related to the fact that the wage growth rate in the developed economies is slowing down, which cuts into the consumer purchasing power.

She also spoke about the need for a balanced budget, finance and credit policy, and the need for structural changes in the economy. These were the subjects of our discussion.

All that is extremely interesting, important and needed. And the fact that we have a general idea of the direction to move in is of great significance.
To be continued.


First day of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting

The first day of the 25th APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting in Danang concluded with a gala reception given by the President of Vietnam in honour of APEC economic leaders.
November 10, 2017
 Photo ceremony of APEC economic leaders. With President of the United States Donald Trump.

Photo ceremony of APEC economic leaders. With President of Peru Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
The President of Russia took part in meetings of the APEC economic leaders with members of the APEC Business Advisory Council and with heads of ASEAN delegations.
In addition, Vladimir Putinheld bilateral meetings on the forum’s sidelines with President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Tran Dai Quang and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

The forum will continue on November 11. The participants plan to adopt a Joint Declaration of the Leaders on the basis of its results. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Putin and Trump shook hands on the margins of the APEC summit

Путин и Трамп пожали друг другу руки на полях саммита АТЭС 

 Putin and Trump shook hands on the margins of the APEC summit

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Article by Vladimir Putin, The 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Danang: Together Towards Prosperity and Harmonious Development

November 8, 2017
Resultado de imagem para pictures of The 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Danang: Together Towards Prosperity and Harmonious Development

The 25th anniversary APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will take place in Danang very soon, on November 10 and 11.
We greatly value the APEC forum for the ample opportunities it affords all participants to engage in discussions and coordinate positions on a variety of economic, social, environmental, and cultural issues. Our countries strive to cooperate based on the principles of consensus and voluntary participation, mutual respect and willingness to compromise, regardless of the political situation. This is what APEC’s unique spirit of partnership is all about.
As a major Eurasian power with vast Far Eastern territories that boast significant potential, Russia has a stake in the successful future of the Asia-Pacific region, and in promoting sustainable and comprehensive growth throughout its entire territory. We believe that effective economic integration based on the principles of openness, mutual benefit and the universal rules of the World Trade Organisation is the primary means of achieving this goal.
We support the idea of forming an Asia-Pacific free trade area. We believe this is in our practical interest and represents an opportunity to strengthen our positions in the rapidly growing APR markets. I want to note that over the past five years, the share of APEC economies in Russia's foreign trade has increased from 23 to 31 percent, and from 17 to 24 percent in exports. And we have no intention of stopping there.
Of course, the large-scale project to create the APEC free trade area should be carried out with due account of the experience gained from implementing key integration formats in the Asia-Pacific region and Eurasia, including the Eurasian Economic Union, in which Russia cooperates with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Our union has been developing dynamically, and we are eager to build relations with all countries and associations that are interested in doing so. Vietnam, the host of this year’s Forum, was the first state to sign a free trade agreement with the EAEU. As a result, our trade grew significantly and became more diversified. Talks on a trade and economic cooperation agreement with China concluded a short while ago. Talks with Singapore have begun, and we are working on the possibility of signing a free trade agreement with ASEAN.
On a related note, I would like to mention our idea to create the Greater Eurasian Partnership. We suggested forming it on the basis of the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Belt and Road initiative. To reiterate, this is a flexible modern project open to other participants.
Comprehensive development of infrastructure, including transport, telecommunications and energy, will serve as the basis for effective integration. Today Russia is actively modernising its sea and air ports in the Russian Far East, developing transcontinental rail routes, and building new gas and oil pipelines. We are committed to implementing bilateral and multilateral infrastructure projects which will link our economies and markets. Among other projects, I am referring to the Energy Super Ring that unites Russia, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, and the Sakhalin-Hokkaido transport link.
We pay special attention to integrating Russia’s Siberian and Far Eastern territories into the network of APR economic ties. These efforts include a whole range of measures to enhance the investment appeal of our regions, and to integrate Russian enterprises into international production chains.
For Russia, the development of our Far East is a national priority for the 21st century. We are talking about creating territories of advanced economic growth in that region, pursuing large-scale development of natural resources, and supporting advanced high-tech industries, as well as investing in human capital, education and healthcare, and forming competitive research centres.
We hope that our foreign partners, primarily from APEC economies, will play an active role in implementing these programmes and projects. All the more so, as foreign participants of the annual Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok already had a chance to gain confidence in the prospects and feasibility of our plans.
We have an equally serious approach to involving small and medium-sized businesses in APEC economic integration processes, and supporting female entrepreneurship and start-up companies run by young entrepreneurs. Of course, we attach special importance to strengthening our cultural ties and expanding our contacts in the sphere of science and education. Looking ahead, we will focus on forming a common APR education space, one of whose centres could be the Far Eastern Federal University.
We believe that establishing effective cooperation to support innovation is the most important task we face in this dynamic era. As such, Russia has put forward a number of specific initiatives. These include unifying digital economy and trade rules, harmonising national technical standards, coordinating strategies for forming high-tech markets, and creating a uniform conceptual framework for the digital space. We have also shared with our partners our experience in providing e-services to the public. In addition, we suggest starting consultations within APEC on international information security and protection of computer software.
Preventing and providing relief following natural disasters and man-made accidents, epidemics and pandemics is another challenge that requires a joint response by all APR partners. Of course, we need to tackle food security issues together and think about how to meet the region's rapidly growing demand for high-quality and healthy food. Russia is one of the world’s leaders in exports of grain, vegetable oils, fish, and a number of other foods. We expect to become the leading supplier of ecologically clean food to our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region. To do so, we are taking measures to increase agricultural output and improve productivity.
We intend to engage in substantive discussions of all these topics during the upcoming summit in Danang. I am confident that, acting together, we will find acceptable solutions to the challenge of supporting the steady, balanced, and harmonious growth of our shared region, and securing its prosperity. Russia is ready for such a collaborative effort.