The June 1St Petersburg Vision Statement after Modi-Putin Summit laid down roadmap for lifting bilateral economic partnership across areas that were never considered in the past. However, the next challenge is to translate this vision into action to upgrade ties to the next level. Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, told ET’s Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury that both sides have identified 19 projects and a new investment protection pact is in the works.
How would you assess the milestones achieved in Russian-Indian relations following the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF)?
This year, India became a partner-country of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Prime Minister Modi was invited as the honoured guest and delivered a speech at the plenary session. This fact alone already speaks volumes. But of course, the most important result of SPIEF for Russian-Indian relations was the St. Petersburg Declaration. As President Putin emphasised, the task is to expand cooperation in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres, to stimulate trade turnover, improve its structure, and expand production.
The two sides have agreed on the list of 19 projects for cooperation in the field of transport infrastructure, new technologies in pharmaceuticals, aircraft and automobile construction, diamond extraction and agriculture. Let me remind you that India is currently involved in the assembly of military products with the participation of Russian specialists. The joint development and production of modern weapons systems will be pursued.
The St. Petersburg Declaration sets out the various areas in which India and Russia are planning to cooperate. Which Russian investments have better prospects in India?
I would especially highlight the aviation industry as well as the development of railway infrastructure besides IT. In terms of aircraft construction, the supply of Russian civil aircraft to India, including the Sukhoi Superjet-100 aircraft, is quite a promising venture. By 2029, India’s internal airlines will expand to 250 aircraft. This demand will be shaped by an increase in passenger traffic travelling among the regional cities of India. We very much expect that India’s plans will allow to increase volumes of deliveries of the Russian planes. Our planes are capable of winning the competition vis-à-vis Embraer and Bombardier.
In addition, given the high level of local content of the production of aircraft engines in India, Russia can offer another high-tech project: production of power plants based on aviation gas generators. This topic was recently discussed in Novosibirsk at the first meeting of the Russian-Indian High-Level Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation. We are interested in the participation of Russian companies in the modernisation of Indian railways. We know that in India today, railway transport is the most in demand.
We are also interested in the construction of dedicated cargo corridors, the modernisation of railway stations, as well as the reconstruction and construction of car repair depots. We are also ready to organise the training of Indian specialists. We have formed a Russian-Indian Working Group for the Development of Integrated Solutions in the development of railway networks and a subway in the State of Maharashtra.
Russian private companies have faced hurdles in India in the past. What are the current impediments for Russian investment in India?
Unforeseen changes in Indian legislation can be an obstacle to business cooperation. One discriminatory measure for Russian companies was the refusal to provide bank guarantees while concluding contracts under government tenders. Nevertheless, Russia and India are negotiating a new agreement on the promotion and mutual protection of investments. The previously-signed Agreement on the Protection of Capital Investments ceased to exist in April 2017.
Which areas have the greatest prospects for India’s investment in Russia?
We are inviting Indian investors to participate in the “Aluminium Valley” project in Eastern Siberia. This will be a special economic zone in the Krasnoyarsk region. In mid-March, I was in Chennai, where during my talks with my Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman, we reached an agreement on the establishment of a Subgroup on Cooperation in the Aluminium Industry As of today, we are waiting for India to respond to the proposals on the subject and composition of the subgroup.
Source: The Economic Times