India is keen to expand its economic ties with Russia’s resource-rich Far East, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said as she sought the Russian government’s assistance in facilitating Indian investors in the region.
Swaraj said the leadership of the two countries had identified trade and economic relations as a top priority in their overall partnership and both the nations made “very significant” investments in each other’s countries last year.
“India invested USD 5.5 billion in the oil sector in Russia. The largest Russian investment in India of USD 12.9 billion, which is also India’s largest FDI, was concluded last month in the oil sector between Rosneft and Essar,” she said at the India-Russia Business Dialogue at the Eastern Economic Forum held in Russia.
“Politically, India has the best of relations with Russia. We have been partners for seven decades, and our friendship has expanded to almost all sectors of human activity,” Swaraj said.
Terming the meeting as the start of a new and “promising” beginning in expanding India’s economic ties with the Russian Far East, Swaraj said the two countries should identify areas of common interest and encourage more interactions.
“I see this as the start of a new and promising beginning in expanding India’s economic ties with the Russian Far East…I am confident that the Russian Government will assist Indian investors in the region,” Swaraj said in a statement.
She also sought investment from the Russian business community.
“I would like to reiterate our invitation to regions and businesspersons of the Far East to visit India…Greater trade, commerce and investment with the Far East will help us in achieving the target of 30 billion US dollars that we have set for our bilateral trade by the year 2025,” she said.
“India is one of the most dynamic economies of the world. Based on the vibrant and progressive policies of our government, the Indian economy is firmly embarked on a strong growth trajectory. Ambitious policy measures such as the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax have made doing business in India easier,” Swaraj said.
She said under the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Start-up India’ flagship programmes the government had made concerted efforts to attract technology, investments and best practices from across the world.
“There has been no better time to engage with India. I can assure our Russian friends that in India, a warm welcome awaits them,” Swaraj said.
She said the Russian Far East was one of the richest regions in the world and India is among the fastest growing large economies of the world.
“There is lot that can be done together. When other markets are closing we need to find new ones and create virtuous cycles of investment. Investment is in the ultimate analysis (of) an act of faith,” she said.
“Today, the Russian Far East authorities are actively inviting Indian investments into their region. The areas identified as priority sectors such as machine industry, oil and gas, fisheries, agriculture, metals and mining, diamonds, timber, transport and logistics and tourism are all of interest to India,” she added.
Swaraj also said that India will provide an annual grant of USD 10,000 to fund the study of Indology at the Centre of Regional and International Studies at Far East Federal University.
“This will contribute to building greater awareness about India and more exchanges,” she said.