Key Takeaways for India and Russia from Vladivostok summit 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would extend a $1 billion line of credit towards the development of the Russian Far East, while speaking at the Plenary Session of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok.
The PM recalled that India was the first country in the world to open a consulate in Vladivostok and underlined the age and depth of the country’s relations with the Far East. Engaging closely with East Asia was in line with India’s policy goal of “Act East”, he said.
“I’m thankful to President Vladimir Putin of Russia for inviting me here. India is the first country that opened its consulate in Vladivostok,” Modi said in his address to the EEF. “For the development of Far East, India will give a line of credit worth USD 1 billion. My government has actively engaged in East Asia as part of its ‘Act East’ policy. This will also give a new dimension to our economic diplomacy.” He then further invited all 11 Governors of the Far East to India to continue with the excellent results that India achieved in Eastern Economic Forum.
The EEF Summit began in Vladivostok on September 4 and went on till September 6.
What is EEF?
The EEF was established by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in 2015, with the aim of supporting the economic development of Russia’s Far East, and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. The EEF Summit at the Far Eastern Federal University was the fifth in its history.
Among the participants in the Summit were India, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. According to the EEF website, the 2018 Summit was attended by more than 6,000 participants from over 60 countries, and over 220 agreements worth over RUB 3.1 trillion were signed. The Summits have roundtable conferences, panel sessions, business breakfasts, besides business dialogues and bilateral talks and agreements.
What is India’s interest in the EEF
Prime Minister Modi has described the EEF as a “historic opportunity” to give new impetus to the cooperation between India and Russia. He has said that the relationship between the two countries has “special chemistry, special ease”, even pointing out that Siberian cranes migrate to “my home state Gujarat”.
India is interested in expanding the level of trade between the two countries. An area of special interest for India is the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves along the coast of Russia’s Far East.
Both India and Russia are interested in expanding the Russian business under ‘Make In India’ program and agreed to speed up the preparations for the signing of the ‘India Russia Intergovernmental Agreement’ on promotion and protection of Investments.
India is already investing in the fields of diamond, coal and gold mining in the region. The two countries also agreed to cooperate in the supply of coking coal from the Russian Far East to India. Several Indian diamond-cutting companies have been already set up in this region. The leaders are determined to sign a long-term agreement for sourcing Russian crude oil and delivering it to India with the possible use of Northern Sea Route and a developing a pipeline system. Both sides are also looking forward to the idea of temporary replacement of manpower from India to the Far East Region.
India expressed satisfaction with the progress in raising the speed of Nagpur – Secunderabad Section, as both sides foresee good potential in establishing cooperation in the sphere of railways. Both India and Russia will continue to actively engage in this regard. They also agreed to review the possibility of expanding direct passenger and cargo flights between various regions of both countries.
Defence, Space and research
India and Russia welcomed the cooperation between The State Space Corporation “Roscosmos” and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) in planetary Exploration, satellite navigation and human spaceflight programs. They also welcomed the active work carried out within the framework of signed MoU on the support of the Russian side of India’s first manned mission “Gaganyaan”.
India and Russia saw a major leap from buyer-seller relationship to now being equal partners through joint ventures in defence sector. A promise for exploring the prospects of cooperation and establishment of joint ventures in India for the development and production of civil aircraft took place during EEF.
Apart from the signing of the logistics between India and Russia, it was also announced that India will start manufacturing spare parts and components for the Russian military equipment under transfer of technology and set up of joint ventures. The Chennai and Vladivostok route along with New Delhi’s further engagement in the Arctic seems positive. Apart from the cargo to be shipped through this corridor, India stands to benefit as New Delhi will be cooperating in the shipbuilding process, including in ice-class vessels which will be crucial for the country’s Arctic policy, in the Zvezda shipyard.
In the end, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited President Putin to visit India in 2020 for the 21st India-Russia annual Summit. Overall, the annual summit and the 5th Eastern Economic Forum could be seen as a huge success, deepening recent developments in all the sectors, including the introduction of the new ‘Act Far East’ policy. India and Russia can use their good offices and bring countries together, leaving not a single country behind, and focus on making the world a better place, free from nuclear and chemical weapons or outer space militarization.
By Charu Madan