India -Russia Business dialogue at Eastern Economic Forum “a promising beginning”, says Swaraj

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has described the first ever India-Russia Business Dialogue at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, as “the start of a new and promising beginning in expanding India’s economic ties with the Russian Far East.”
Addressing the meeting yesterday, the Minister said with the Russian Far East being one of the richest regions in the world and India among the fastest growing large economies of the world, there is a lot that could 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,” she added.
"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," Ms. Swaraj said.
“India is not new to the Russian Far East. In 2001, during the tenure of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ONGC took the bold decision to invest in the Sakhalin oilfield, not far from here. Till today, this is one of the most successful multi-billion dollar investments by India overseas,” she said.
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, she pointed out.
The Ministry of Far East Development has taken several initiatives such as liberalization of the visa regime, the establishment of Special Economic Zones and 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,” the Minister said.
She listed five objectives to be achieved through the Dialogue. The first is to bridge the knowledge gap between the business communities. “We need to create a network of partnerships and better understand the laws and regulations in each other’s countries.”
The second point is to identify areas of common interest and potential, keeping in mind mutual strengths and complementarities. The third is to identify the actions the two governments should take to further facilitate investments and trade. “We are already working on initiatives such as the 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,” she said.
“Fourth, we should create success stories. An Indian company, KGK Diamonds, is setting up a processing facility in Vladivostok. Other projects are under discussion. I am confident that the Russian Government will assist Indian investors in the region,” the Minister said.
“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,” she added.
“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 for Regional and International Studies in this University,” Ms Swaraj said.
“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,” she added.
Describing India as one of the most dynamic economies of the world that is firmly embarked on a strong growth trajectory, she said 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 to attract 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,” she added.
Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East Alexander Galushka, Moscow City Government Minister Sergei Cheryomin,  Indian Ambassador Pankaj Saran and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) President Pankaj Patel were present at the function along with business leaders from India and Russia.


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