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External Affairs Minister's Speech at the India -Russia Business dialogue during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok (6th September, 2017)

September 06, 2017

His Excellency Mr. Alexander Galushka Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East
His Excellency Mr. Sergei Cheryomin, Minister, Moscow City Government
Ambassador Mr. Pankaj Saran,
Mr. Pankaj Patel, President, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Business leaders from India and Russia,
Dear Friends,

I am very happy to have this opportunity to participate in the India-Russia Business Dialogue at the Eastern Economic Forum. This is the first time that such a Dialogue has been organized in this Forum. I thank the organisers for taking this initiative. I see this as the start of a new and promising beginning in expanding India’s economic ties with the Russian Far East.

I know that many of the Indian businesspersons are coming here for the first time. I am glad they have done so. The Russian Far East is one of the richest regions in the world and India is among the fastest growing large economies of the world. There is lot that can be done together. When other markets are closing we need to find new ones and create virtuous cycles of investment. Investment is in the ultimate analysis an act of faith.

Politically, India has the best of relations with Russia. We have been partners for seven decades, and our friendship has expanded to almost all sectors of human activity.

Both our governments have identified trade and economic relations as a top priority in our overall partnership. This year India has the unique record of participating in all major Forums in Russia. In St. Petersburg in June, India was the Guest Country for the first time.

More importantly, PM Modi and President Putin together met the CEOs of both countries in St. Petersburg. Many ideas were exchanged. I see today’s Dialogue as a continuation of that process.

India is not new to the Russian Far East. In 2001, during the tenure of the then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ONGC took the bold decision to invest in the सखालिन oilfield, not far from here. Till today, this is one of the most successful multi-billion dollar investments by India overseas.

Again, in the Sakha Republic, India is the dominant partner, responsible for the purchase of raw diamonds worth several billion dollars.

Today, the Russian Far East authorities are actively inviting Indian investments into their region. The areas identified as priority sectors such as machine industry, oil and gas, fisheries, agriculture, metals and mining, diamonds, timber, transport and logistics and tourism are all of interest to India.

The Ministry of Far East Development has taken many initiatives such as liberalization of the visa regime, establishment of Special Economic Zones & making land allocations.

Last year, we made very significant investments in each other’s countries. India invested 5.5 billion US dollars in the oil sector in Russia. The largest Russian investment in India of 12.9 billion US dollars, which is also India’s largest FDI, was concluded last month in the oil sector between Rosneft and Essar.

Against this background, I believe this Dialogue should aim to achieve the following objectives:

First, bridge the knowledge gap between our business communities. We need to create a network of partnerships and better understand the laws and regulations in each other’s countries.

Second, identify areas of common interest and potential, keeping in mind mutual strengths and complementarities.

Third, identify what actions the two governments should take to further facilitate investments and trade. We are already working on initiatives such asthe Green Corridor, the International North-South Transport Corridor and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. The Russian government has eased visa policies for Indians in the Far East. We would welcome specific recommendations from the business communities. For example, connectivity is a challenge that needs to be addressed.

Fourth, we should create success stories.

An Indian company, KGK Diamonds, is setting up a processing facility in Vladivostok(व्लादिवोस्तोक). Other projects are under discussion. I am confident that the Russian Government will assist Indian investors in the region.

Fifth, we should encourage more interactions between our regions. I would like to reiterate our invitation to regions and businesspersons of the Far East to visit India. The Russian Far East Investment and Export Agency has been in touch with Invest India.

Greater trade, commerce and investment with the Far East will help us in achieving the target of 30 billion US dollars that we have set for our bilateral trade by the year 2025.

Sitting as we are at the beautiful campus of the Far East Federal University, I am happy to announce that India will provide an annual grant of 10,000 US dollars to fund the study of Indology at the Centre of Regional and International Studies in this University. This will contribute to building greater awareness about India and more exchanges. I also call upon the business community to also contribute to this endeavour. I am also happy to announce that our Consulate will also shift into a new building for which the necessary processing is being done on the Russian side.

India is one of the most dynamic economies of the world. Based on the vibrant and progressive policies of our government, the Indian economy is firmly embarked on a strong growth trajectory. Ambitious policy measures such as the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax have made doing business in India easier.

Under our flagship programmes of Make in India and Start-up India, we have made concerted efforts toattract technology, investments and best practices from across the world. Our programmes directed at the social sector such as those for skilling our youth and providing housing for all and massive infrastructure programmes in roads, ports, metros, railways, energy, food processing, education, innovation are opening up unparalleled opportunities and creating the impulse for rapid growth. There has been no better time to engage with India.

I can assure our Russian friends that in India, a warm welcome awaits them. I wish Russia all the very best in its efforts to bring prosperity and development to this region. India will be a willing and active partner in this endeavour.

Thank you.

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