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St. Petersburg Forum:
Russia Proposes a Eurasian
Trade Organization

June 11, 2007 (EIRNS)—Speaking at an economic forum attended by the top 200 private companies in the world at St. Petersburg on June 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for creating an Eurasian alternative to the non-funtional World Trade Organization (WTO), reports the Indian news daily, The Hindu. The Russian President also said his country will increase its energy exports to Asian markets "in view of the growing energy needs in the Asia-Pacific region."

Pointing out the realities that have shown through in recent years, Putin said, "The world is changing before our eyes." The economic and financial system established by Western countries after World War II "does not reflect the new balance of power." He lamented that today's international economic organizations "look archaic, undemocratic and awkward" by protecting the interests mainly of developed economies. "Today protectionism, which the WTO is intended to fight, oftentimes comes from developed economies that set up this structure."

"Countries that only yesterday appeared to be hopelessly backward, today have emerged as the world's fastest growing economies. While 50 years ago 60% of the global GDP was produced in the Group of Seven nations, today 60% of the world GDP is generated outside the G7," said President Putin. The Russian leader called for creating "regional Eurasian free trade institutions" to encourage trade and growth.

Russia is engaged in WTO talks with the European Union. Although the EU formally backs Russia's World Trade Organization membership, issues, including foreign investors' access to Russia's vast energy sector, have allegedly complicated Moscow's WTO application.