India, Russia need to diversify trade basket by moving beyond traditional sectors, says Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla
Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla on 18 February stressed the unique nature of India’s close and trust-based partnership with Russia, as he called for greater interaction between think tanks and strategic analysts of the two nations in line. with their strong bilateral cooperation.
Read also: Expect developments in India-Russia ties: Shringla
Mr Shringla arrived in Moscow on 16 February on his first foreign trip this year and summoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and held extensive talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov on 17 February.
On February 18, he exchanged views with Russian academics and strategic thinkers on Indo-Russian relations in light of the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.
Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla called for greater interaction between think tanks and strategic analysts of #India and #Russia in line with our strong bilateral cooperation, the Indian embassy in Russia wrote on Twitter.
Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla exchanged views with Russian academics and strategic thinkers on #India-Russia relations in light of the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. The FS stressed the unique nature of our close and trust-based partnership with Russia, the mission said.
On February 17, Mr. Shringla had fruitful and productive meetings with senior Russian diplomats on bilateral issues as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest, and the two sides discussed ways to further strengthen the Special and Privileged Strategic Bilateral Partnership.
He also had an excellent discussion with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Morgulov on bilateral issues, co-operation in multilateral organizations as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.
Speaking at the Russian Diplomatic Academy on Wednesday, Mr Shringla said: “I have had excellent meetings at the Russian Foreign Ministry with Mr Morgulov, where we have reviewed our bilateral relations, including future high-level exchanges.
We also discussed India-Russia cooperation in multilateral forums and exchanged views on issues of regional and international importance, he said.
During Mr. Shringla’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, he conveyed the greetings of Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar.
I just called Mr. Lavrov and was an opportunity to hear it. He talked about Russia-India relations, that it is very close, very special, very privileged and strategic, so these were his words and for me, it was very instructive to listen to a personality like him. “Given the importance we attach to the India-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership, it is fitting that Moscow be the destination for my first overseas visit in 2021,” he said.
In his address to the thriving diplomats of the Diplomatic Academy, the Foreign Secretary stressed that a multipolar world and multipolar Asia are not possible without India and Russia.
Mr. Shringlas’s two-day official visit will boost the special and privileged India-Russia strategic partnership and exchange views on current issues of regional and international importance. The trip is also expected to lay the groundwork for the high-level bilateral visits planned for this year.
Trade variety basket
“India and Russia need to diversify their trade basket and economic exchanges by moving beyond traditional sectors and cooperating in new areas such as railways, transport and logistics, pharmaceuticals, minerals and steel that will add momentum to bilateral ties,” he said. Shringla.
Addressing a meeting hosted by the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 17, Mr. Shringla said that India-Russia trade, amounting to $ 10.11 billion in FY 2019-2020, is far below potential.
Last year there was a downturn, but we are finding ways to revive it. The two countries have set the bilateral trade target at $ 30 billion by 2025, he said.
One of the steps taken to improve trade is the start of negotiations in August 2020 on the Indo-Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Free Trade Agreement, he said.
The operationalization of a green corridor and a bilateral agreement on investment protection are likely to encourage bilateral trade and investment, respectively, Shringla underlined.
Using national currencies in bilateral trade agreements will also reduce cost and time, as well as the risk of arrears, he said.
Pointing out that the oil and gas sector has been a key sector of trade co-operation, he said the two countries have sought ways to diversify economic exchanges that go beyond traditional areas.
Investments in new areas
He said India is looking at investments in new areas such as coke coal, timber, LNG as there is great potential there.
We have already started a shipping line between Vladivostok and Chennai. We are looking at an important trade route which has never been there, a new route between our two countries. Noting that Indian companies have invested significantly in Russia, he said India’s investment in the Sakhalin-1 project was one of India’s earliest public sector investments abroad.
To date, Indian oil and gas companies have acquired shares in five Russian companies / projects worth about $ 15 billion. Rosneft was the leader of a consortium of investors who, in 2017, acquired a 98% stake in Indias Essar Oil at a cost of $ 12.9 billion.
He said India is seriously in the process of privatizing many of the major oil companies and some are having very serious discussions with Russian companies to see if some of these shares can be bought by Russian companies.
We are looking at long-term agreements for the supply of coke coal from Russia for Indian steel plants. An India Energy Center will open in Moscow next month, he said.
Stressing the importance of diversifying and expanding the India-Russia trade basket, he said, he said there was interest in advancing co-operation in railways, transport and logistics, civil ship construction and repair, inland waterways, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. minerals, steel, chemicals, including petrochemicals, ceramics, agro-industry, timber, high technology and scientific research.
Indian companies are actively exploring investments in Russia in energy, minerals, infrastructure and healthcare, he said.
As diplomats, we should not look at what is traditional, but try to do what is new, which adds momentum to the relationship, he said.
The year 2020 marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the India-Russia Strategic Partnership and the 10th anniversary of its establishment into a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.
As Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently described, the India-Russia relationship is really very close, very strategic, very special and very privileged, he said.
He said the long-term union of interests, sensitivity to each other’s core concerns, mutual respect and trust shared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin, and increased people-to-people contacts are key drivers of the bilateral partnership.
He said defense, energy, space and civilian nuclear co-operation have been its traditional pillars.
In terms of security and defense ties, he said, India and Russia have strong military and military-technical co-operation.
He said the two countries are cooperating in the production of the BrahMos missile system and the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks are outstanding examples of India’s cooperation with Russia.
We also plan to start production of the AK-203 rifle, through an India-Russia joint venture in India, including full technology transfer, he said.
Exploring tripartite contact
Acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed some points of suffocation and weakness in global supply chains, he said this has allowed India and Russia to analyze where they can stand together to overcome over-dependence and over-dependence on some economies.
He said India and Russia have given priority to the North-South International Transport Corridor and the East Sea Corridor (Chennai-Vladivostok) as alternatives to traditional limited and expensive routes.
We are also exploring trilateral contacts with partner countries such as Japan and the first Track-II Dialogue on India-Japan-Russia Cooperation in the Russian Far East was held in January 2021 in virtual format. It has identified potential areas for trilateral co-operation, he said.
He underlined that cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy is an important aspect of the strategic partnership and the Kudankulam Nuclear Energy Project (KKNPP) is a beloved joint project.
We have agreed to commission 12 nuclear reactors designed by Russia in India in the coming years, he said.
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