India and Russia have decided to increase economic cooperation between the various regions of the Russian Federation, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s informal summit with President Vladimir Putin.
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu led the Indian delegation at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on May 24-25.
Prabhu met with Russian ministers and several top business leaders representing railways, communications and media, fertilisers and start-ups. He also held meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev, Minister of Transport Yevgeny Deitrich, Minister for Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin, Minister for the Development of the Far East Alexander Kozlov, and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.
Furthering the goal of increased cooperation between the various regions of the Russian Federation, Prabhu also had meetings with the regional governors of Stavropol, Yaroslavl, Udmurtia and Ingushetia.
During the meetings, both sides appreciated and noted the fact that India-Russia trade has increased considerably, but was still less than the potential. The thrust of the conversations was for creating and executing a plan for increased bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Towards this end, logistics, infrastructure, knowledge-based economies, diamonds and gold were highlighted as important focus areas. In the infrastructure sector, the status of the joint study with Russian Railways on the high speed railway line between Nagpur and Secunderabad was discussed.
Prabhu also highlighted the need to set up joint ventures which should participate in tenders in third countries. Knowledge-based sectors like pharmaceuticals, innovative industries, digital economies were discussed as target areas of joint cooperation.
With the Russian deputy premier, the commerce minister highlighted the need for cooperation and creating a plan in areas of gold, diamond, timber and other natural resources.
The visit also discussed creation of mechanisms to find complementarities and remove barriers between the economies of the two countries. The commerce minister and Minister of Economic Development Oreshkin discussed the articulation of the joint action plan on increased economic cooperation and to submit the findings of the report before the annual summit between the prime minister and the Russian president later this year.
The establishment of a strategic economic dialogue between the NITI Aayog and the Russian ministry of economic development where experts from both sides would meet and discuss economic issues, which would have its first meeting later this year was also discussed. Expediting the Eurasian Economic Union-India negotiations on free trade agreement was also underlined.
Both sides agreed that operationalising the International North South Transport Corridor would propel trade between the two countries to new heights by providing a faster and more viable trade route, and therefore should be a priority for both.
Prabhu also invited the various Russian ministers, governors and corporate executives to bring a delegation of the top 100 CEOs to visit India for a summit meeting with government officials and Indian CEOs, where sector-specific industries would interact with each other to discuss and build contacts for sustained engagement.