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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia: June 18, 2016. Russian president Vladimir Putin says the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is planning to start official talks with the European Union (EU) and China on the formation of a “comprehensive trade and economic partnership”.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin said over 40 states and international organizations want to establish a free trade zone with the EEU including China, India, Pakistan and Iran.

He said Russia was interested in Europe joining the project and welcomed Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev’s initiative on holding consultations between the EEU and the EU.

port of Aktau Kazahkstan“Despite all of the well-known problems in our relations, the European Union remains Russia’s key trade and economic partner,” said Putin. “It is our next-door neighbor and we are not indifferent to what is happening in the lives of our neighbors, European countries and the European economy.

“We must return trust to Russian-European relations and restore the level of our cooperation…we don’t hold a grudge, as they say, and are ready to meet our European partners halfway. However, this can by no means be a one-way street,” he added

DP World CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem was also in St. Petersburg where he met president Nazarbayev to discussed opportunities for developing Kazakhstan’s Khorgos Eastern Gate Special Economic Zone and the port of Aktau (right).

Bin Sulayem commented: “We already have a fruitful relationship with the government of Kazakhstan that we are looking to build on and will work with them on projects which support the flow of goods and enable trade across the region which remains an attractive market for us with huge long-term growth prospects.

“From our experience, New Silk Road countries need to continue developing trade centric solutions. They bring together all the ingredients required to encourage trade – from marine and inland terminals, free zones, customs and logistics underpinned by smart technology, to create a thriving business environment,” he continued.

With a population of 4.4 billion and an economic output of US$21 trillion, DP World says trade and investment opportunities in the New Silk Road are “immense”. At the same time it acknowledges the potential of the EEU with a combined market of 180 million people and a total GDP of almost US$6 trillion.

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