New Delhi: Russian deputy prime minister Yury Trutnev will visit India this week, to highlight investment opportunities in areas as varied as energy, metals and timber in the resource-rich Russian Far East amid plateauing trade ties between the two “special and privileged strategic” partners.
Trutnev, who is also Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for the Far Eastern Federal District—the largest of Russia’s eight federal districts—will visit Mumbai and New Delhi during 15-18 March, a Russian embassy statement said.
Trutnev’s working visit to India overlaps with that of foreign secretary S. Jaishankar to Moscow this week. Trutnev’s agenda includes talks “with CEOs of Indian corporations interested in investment projects in the Russian Far East, and visit a number of industrial enterprises in India,” the statement said.
According to an Indian official, “the region has a wealth of natural resources such as land, timber, mineral and other resources like tin, gold, diamonds and oil and natural gas.”
“There are opportunities for Indian firms in areas such as agriculture, mining, port development and infrastructure, diamond processing and agro-processing,” the official said.
The Far Eastern Federal District, which is twice the size of India, is the least populated region of Russia with some 6.3 million inhabitants. But its contribution to Russian GDP is about 5%, according to the Russian government website.
“India was the first country to establish a resident consulate in Vladivostok in 1992. The current engagement of India with the region is limited to isolated pockets such as the Irkut Corporation in Irkutsk where the MiG and Sukhoi aircraft are built and over $6 billion worth of investments by OVL (the overseas investment arm of the Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd) in the Sakhalin 1 project,” the Indian official cited above said.
Economic ties between India and Russia have failed to keep pace with their political ties with trade stagnating at $7.83 billion in 2015 despite the two countries setting a $30 billion bilateral trade target to be achieved by 2030.
Major export items from India include pharmaceuticals, tea, coffee and tobacco, machinery and organic chemicals. Major items of import from Russia include precious and semi-precious stones, metals, nuclear power equipment, electrical machinery and equipment, mineral oil and products, iron and steel and precision surgical equipment.
Indian investment in Russia are estimated to be about $8 billion while Russian investments in India total about $3 billion.
Trutnev’s visit to India comes amid a wariness in India-Russia ties—with Russia warming up to Pakistan, establishing contact with the insurgent Taliban group in Afghanistan and forging close ties with India’s strategic rival China.
All these come amid a general deterioration of ties between Russia and the West.