Russian President Vladimir Putin has told participants in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation business summit about achievements of the Russian economy. Putin said that "along with other large and fast-developing countries in the region, present-day Russia is opening to the whole world and is opening its vast business space for more productive cooperation." The president said that, while promoting the growth of financial, economic, technological and information independence of the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for almost 40 percent of the world's population and 50 percent of the world's international trade, Russia's high economic growth rate and unique taxation climate will in the nearest future make this country "the most dynamic strategic resource of the development of the entire Asia-Pacific region." At the beginning of this year, Russia introduced a single income tax rate for private individuals, setting it at 13 percent - the lowest rate in Europe, Putin pointed out. It also passed a law reducing the profits tax from 35 to 24 percent. The fiscal burden on the economy has been markedly reduced, while tax revenues ove! ! r the first eight months of this year increased more than 36 percent. Simultaneously, the national tax system has been considerably simplified. By way of example, Putin cited the use of resources, saying that in this sector three taxes have been replaced with one and benefits have been revoked. "We are departing from non-transparent patterns," Putin said. "We are working to create a favourable environment for business," the president went on. A package of laws have been drafted to reduce red tape in the economy and make it more liberal. Various kinds of licensing instructions have been systematised and combined in one law. "We are actively restructuring natural, perhaps not natural yet the largest, monopolies, have approved a concept for the development of the United Energy Systems of Russia, and set up a single tariff body which will establish price parameters for the services of natural monopolies," the Russian president said. "The protection of the rights of Russian and foreign investors remains in the focus of our close attention," he emphasized. "The growth in foreign investments in the non-financial sector of the economy - trade, public catering, transport, and the food and fuel industries - inspires our hopes." Last year, Russia's gross national product increased 8.3 percent, and industrial production grew 11.9 percent. This year, Russia may achieve 5.5 percent growth, instead of the planned 4 percent. Russia has entered a new period - the stage of balanced growth. Budget revenues now exceed spending. Russia repays foreign debts regularly, on schedule, and in full - and without taking foreign loans for that for several years. The country's gold and hard currency resources are constantly growing. Russia has gathered in a record high grain harvest and now, for the first time in several decades, it has a real grain export potential, Putin said. He expressed the hope that the Russian economy will grow still more owing to the broadening of trade and economic cooperation with foreign partners. In the near future, Russia expects to be admitted to the World Trade Organisation. "We hope that APEC member countries will support us," he said. "Our regional cooperation can be boosted by the APEC forum, within the framework of which several projects are being implemented," the president said. He added that next year Russia plans to organise an investment symposium-fair in Vladivostok and a scientific conference to compare integration processes in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Putin pointed out that in May Moscow hosted Russia's first meeting of an APEC body - the business consultative council. The integration of Russia, above all its eastern regions, into the Asia-Pacific region's system of economic ties fully meets the common interests and tasks of the APEC, the Russian president said.