Modi’s visit to Russia expected to boost ties

Vladivostok: The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, primarily to attend the annual Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), is expected to result in increased business cooperation between India and Russia, besides a boost to overall bilateral ties.

Modi, who will be the Chief Guest at the 5th EEF, is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin which will focus on giving a boost to bilateral trade and investment and cooperation in the fields of defence, energy, infrastructure and various other sectors. Situation in South Asia in the context of war-mongering by Pakistan is also likely to come up during the discussions between the two leaders.

Modi and Putin are expected to discuss a proposal to establish a free trade zone between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a five-nation grouping, comprising Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus, formed in 2015 to create conditions for the stable development of economies of the member states. Talks have been concluded on this proposal which is expected to give a fillip to the economic ties between India and the Eurasian region.

Modi and Putin last met in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek in June on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit and agreed on the need to explore new areas of cooperation.

In the defence sector, the relationship is already witnessing a change from buyer-seller to the one of collaboration. A highlight in this regard is setting up of a factory in India for manufacture of AK-203 rifles.

The EEF is held annually with the objective of facilitating accelerated development of the Russian Far East’s economy and expanding international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. IANS will be the media partner at this year’s event.

During the EEF, a “Russia-India” dialogue is planned as part of the Forum’s business programme, to be attended by representatives from both countries. In addition, India will have a national stand at the EEF venue to present the country’s economic, industrial, tourism and cultural potential.

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s trip, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval travelled to Russia to prepare the ground for the success of the significant visit.

Goyal led a delegation, which included Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and representatives of over 130 companies.

The delegation held deliberations with the Russian counterpart, headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Envoy to the Far East Yuri Trutnev and including Minister for Development of the Far East and the Arctic Alexander Kozlov, heads of far eastern regions, representatives of federal executive authorities and more than 120 companies.

Trutnev later said, “I am sure that contacts between the leaders of our countries will improve the overall investment climate and convince businessmen that investments are safe.”

Talking about the discussions between the delegations of the two countries, he said interest was evinced in cooperation in power, agriculture, timber, infrastructure, hi-tech and IT sectors.

“I am convinced that regular contacts between representatives of business and the heads of our countries’ regions will make it possible to advance to specific projects in the given spheres and find new ones,” Trutnev stressed.

Goyal said the delegation to the Far East was “the biggest we have ever sent to any country” and that “This reflects the importance we attach to Russian-Indian cooperation.”

He said the visit of the delegation was “indicative of India’s consistent interest in the Far East at the (central) governmental and regional levels. We attach major significance to development of trade and investment co-operation. We have a common goal of reaching USD 30 billion in our bilateral trade turnover. We also plan to increase India’s investments in Russia.”

The visit by the business mission included thematic sessions where the participants discussed the prospects for co-operation in such areas as electric power, the mining industry, medicine, forestry, agriculture, education and real estate.

The heads of the far eastern regions presented potential spheres for Russian-Indian co-operation in the Far East.

The plenary session culminated in the heads of the far eastern regions and Indian states signing a memorandum of mutual understanding in areas like machine-building, oil & gas, agriculture, the diamond industry and tourism.