Will APEC 2012 Be the Litmus Test for the New Far East and Zabaykalye Development Program?

|Russia

On 16 October the public relations office of the government of Primorsky Krai announced that Governor Darkin had approved the city master-plan for the 2012 APEC summit, which the St. Petersburg-based Research and Design Institute for the Elaboration of Master Plans and Urban Development had designed. It is a grand design, plotting the key facilities on Russky Island. The location and design of the suspension bridge, however, has not yet been decided, and approval has also not been handed down from the central government. Russky Island is a place where construction is to be carried out from absolutely no facilities whatsoever, and the people involved have already voiced their concern that from here on in it will be a battle against time.

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Overall view of the Russky Island APEC summit
complex (above, at top) and the summit venue

Meanwhile the new “Federal Program on Economic and Social Development of the Far East and Zabaykalye up to 2013” and the subprogram “The Development of Vladivostok as a Center for International Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region” were approved at a July 2007Cabinet meeting, and a budget of 567 billion rubles in total was assigned to them. Distinctive in the formation of the budget is that three quarters is within the “Federal Budget”, which is the budget of the central government. That is, attention is focused on the financial resources outside the budget and the regional budget being small, and on the helm largely being taken by a state-led program away from the resident-centered strategy planning to date. Differing from the many projects on the list of projects to date that can be mentioned which get derailed by lack of funding, this time there will probably come to be many projects of the kind that will achieve their aims. Many of the projects are new development projects built around a core of mineral resource development, refining projects, pulp and paper, and composite chemical complex construction, etc. Among these is also APEC 2012. In order to make these forms of regional development real, the putting in place and upgrading of the societal base is necessary, and to that end this program urges the supply of electricity with the construction of new and remodeled power plants (coal, hydropower, nuclear and natural gas); and with the planning of the modernization of the power distribution network, the carrying out of the construction of new and the reconstruction of old roads and railway lines, and the upgrading of ports, it lays the foundation for the ordering of rational and modern distribution infrastructure.

APEC 2012 is an event that will be held in 2012, and is also symbolic. From the perspective of the putting in place and upgrading of the societal base it is deeply involved with the new program and subprogram. The hosting of the APEC summit is a matter that has been promised to other countries, and the Russian side can’t allow it to fall behind schedule to suit their own purposes. Meanwhile the implementation of the new program and subprogram via a planned-economy mindset is strongly colored by the objectives. If there is no investment by private-sector firms, the societal infrastructure will be just pie in the sky. In that sense the success of APEC 2012 will be an important barometer indicating the state of the progress of the new program.

[Translated by ERINA]