6 Months agoIndia was a guest country at SPIEF 2017. Take a look at the five major India-Russia agreements signed, and all the action from the Make In India lounge.
The St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), which was first held in 1997, is Russia’s most prestigious business event.
The Forum in 2017 brought together 14,000 business representatives, heads of international organisations, officials, experts, scientists, and media from more than 143 countries. This included heads of 700 Russian companies and 400 foreign companies, according to official figures.1
This year, as India and Russia mark 70 years of diplomatic relations, India was invited as the ‘Guest Country’ at SPIEF 2017. Since India and Russia entered into a Strategic Partnership in October 2000, relations between the two nations have strengthened and progressed beyond the traditional pillars of defence and space to a robust civil nuclear cooperation, collaboration in hydrocarbon sphere, energy and infrastructure, among others. This Partnership was later elevated to a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership in 2010.2
India and Russia are committed to bilateral cooperation in significant economic and strategic initiatives. With the government’s “Make in India” initiative, which aims to invigorate the country’s manufacturing sector and enhance India’s global competitiveness, newer opportunities of collaboration between India and Russia are being explored.
The Forum featured a “Make in India” Lounge that showcased the accomplishments and potential of focus sectors, including Defence, Oil and Gas, Infrastructure and Power, among others. The Lounge also shed light on major government initiatives to ease the business environment in India, the upcoming Goods and Service Tax and the government’s Skill India initiative besides showcasing India as the fastest growing large economy against the backdrop of “Advantage India.”
Honourable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi visits the Make In India Pavilion at SPIEF 2017
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin witnessed the signing of 5 agreements which are summarised below:
- Master framework agreement on building two units at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant
To bolster the civil nuclear partnership, the Indian government inked an agreement with Russia for the construction of the 'third stage' of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, India’s largest nuclear power station. The agreement, which was signed in the presence of the two leaders, covers construction of units 5 and 6 and is expected to generate electricity in seven years. The Russian government will lend India USD 4.2 billion to help cover the construction cost. The reactors, which will have a capacity to produce 1,000 MW of power, will be built by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Russia’s Rosatom. 4 Units 1 and 2 of the Kudankulam plant were earlier completed with Russian assistance, while the foundation for units 3 and 4 was laid during BRICS 2016. Additionally, in a separate joint declaration, India and Russia lauded the widespread use of natural gas as an economical and environment-friendly fuel to ensure reduction of greenhouse emissions, which is in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.5
- Agreement on a feasibility study for a high-speed link between Nagpur and Secunderabad
India boasts of a vast railway network of 66,030 route km, making it the third-largest in the world and the fourth-largest carrier of freight.6 More than 90% of the coal utilised in the country is transported by the country’s railway network.7 The sector plays a critical role in the development of the economy. To realise the vision of upgrading the rail infrastructure of the country, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Russia in 2015, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Russia to enhance cooperation in the rail sector.8 The MoU lays emphasis on an increased level of support in a range of areas, including track upgradation to raise Indian train speeds to 160-200 kmph and to build stronger safety-related systems based on satellite navigation.
At SPIEF, this year, a contract was signed between JSC (Russian Railways) and the Ministry of Railways of the Republic of India related to high-speed connectivity at the Nagpur-Secunderabad section”
- Agreement on intellectual property
An agreement was signed between the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) and the Council of India on Scientific and Industrial Research. Under this agreement, Rospatent experts would be granted access to the Indian Digital Library of Traditional Knowledge (TKDL).
The “Digital Library” is a repository of knowledge on traditional practices like Yoga and Ayurveda among others, defence, oil and gas, power, infrastructure9 and the agreement aims to strengthen India-Russia cooperation in the protection of intellectual property rights.
During BRICS 2016, a training programme of a group of intellectual property experts from BRICS nations was conducted by Russian specialists in Nagpur.10
- Memorandum on cooperation between joint stock company ALROSA and India’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
The two nations share a history of trade in diamonds that dates back to the 17th century, when merchants from Gujarat came to Astrakhan province and established trade relations, in 1615.11 Today, India boasts of being the world’s biggest manufacturing centre for cut and polished diamonds, while Russia is the world’s largest producer of diamonds. Yet, India and Russia have no direct trade in diamonds and most rough Russian diamonds are transported to India indirectly through Antwerp and Dubai with less than 20% being traded directly. India is one of the key trading partners of ALROSA – the Russian state-owned mining company with the world’s largest rough diamond reserves.12
In order to take this relationship to the next level, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between ALROSA and India’s Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council. This memorandum will act to advance India-Russia B2B ties.
- Programme of bilateral cultural exchanges for 2017–2019
The cultural aspect of Indo-Russian relations is significant. From language to dance to yoga - both sides have demonstrated continuous interest in each other’s culture and history with cultural ties being instrumental in bolstering their relations. A testimony to this is the Festival of Indian Culture observed in Russia and the Festival of Russian Culture held in India, both being received with great interest.
SPIEF 2017 saw the two sides agreeing to this programme that would encourage cultural exchanges and thus deepen this partnership further.13
These agreements are the stepping stones for implementing the “Saint Petersburg Declaration: A Vision for the 21st Century” by the Russian Federation and the Republic of India. This Declaration, also signed during SPIEF 2017, states that both countries will "advance the comprehensive development of the Indian-Russian relations". The two sides pledged to continue widening the scope of their cooperation by launching large-scale initiatives in different spheres.
TRANSPORT, INFRASTRUCTURE & DEFENCE
Additionally, both sides committed to building a suitable infrastructure for the International North- South Transport Corridor, which aims to provide for a shorter transit passage between Russia and India via Iran14. They also agreement to implement the Green Corridor, which also aims to facilitate the smooth movement of goods between the two countries. On the shipbuilding front as well, Russia agreed to support India in the development of joint projects through transfers of technology, and share its experiences with India on developing inland waterways, river embankments, ports and cargo containers. Possibilities for upgradation of defence cooperation through joint manufacture, co-production and co-development of military hardware and military spares were also explored.15
Invest India signed 2 MoU’s at SPIEF. The RosCongress Foundation and Invest India signed an MoU to strengthen business relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of India. The agreement entails promotion of Indo-Russian Investments.16 Invest India also signed an MoU with the Business Council for Cooperation with India (BCCI), to support and develop investment cooperation. The MoU was formally announced and signed at the end of India – Russia Business Dialogue at the Make in India Lounge.
Mr. Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary to Dept of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Govt of India takes part in a panel discussion at the Make in India lounge, SPIEF 2017
Additionally, PM Narendra Modi announced the setting up of a dedicated “Russia cell” within Invest India is to be set up to attract Russian investment in the country.17 Invest India is India’s investment promotion and facilitation agency which serves as the point of contact for potential investors while the RosCongress Foundation engages in helping to develop Russia’s economic potential and strengthen the country’s image by organising congresses and exhibitions with an economic and social focus.18
12 http://www.russia-briefing.com/news/russia- india-boost- economic-cooperation-trade.html