Putin Calls for Alternative to World Trade Organization

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Sunday for creating an alternative to the World Trade Organization which would favor developing economies and suggested it was necessary to give a greater role to regional currencies.

Speaking at an economic forum in the second largest city of St. Petersburg, Putin lamented that today's international economic organizations "look archaic, undemocratic and awkward" by protecting the interests mainly of developed economies.

"Today protectionism ... often comes from developed countries that have set up this structure," Putin said. "In order to stimulate trade and investment it is worth thinking about creating a regional Eurasian institute on free trade that could take advantage of the positive experience of WTO."

Putin also said that currently, global financial markets evolve around "one or two" currencies _ an apparent reference to the euro and the dollar _ and their fluctuations often have highly negative effects on many countries' economies and financial reserves.

"There can be only one answer to this challenge _ the creation of several world currencies, several financial centers."

Russian officials are using the two-day forum to court international capital and talk up the resurgent country, combining ambitious economic projections with promises of an open investment climate.