Tomorrow, the Eastern Economic Forum-2017 will open in Vladivostok, where the Russian-Indian dialogue is expected to gain a new dimension. On the eve of this event, we were privileged to talk with the new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India Nikolai Kudashev and learn about the prospects of not only bilateral cooperation but also the creation of a free trade zone with the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union).
- Dear Mr. Kudashev, first of all, let us congratulate you on your new appointment!
- Thank you. I look forward to my departure to New Delhi to continue the work of my remarkable predecessors, to make my contribution even though modest to the development of relations between Russia and India, the relationship of a particularly privileged strategic partnership which supposes the identity of the conception of key issues of international and regional development.
- At the Eastern Economic Forum India will be represented by a large delegation, the business program of the Forum also includes the Russia-India business dialogue. What does in your opinion such an active participation of India in the Eastern Economic Forum mean?
- Indeed, the Eastern Economic Forum which will take place in a few days in Vladivostok will be attended by a very representative Indian delegation of about 70 people. It is headed at once by two ministers including Ms. Sushma Swaraj – the Minister of Foreign Affairs and co-chairman of the Russian-Indian Intergovernmental Commission for trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation. Among the members of the delegation, there will be also representatives of big companies, business circles, and government bodies. The high level and scale of the Indian delegation testify to the importance attached by the Indian colleagues to the development of bilateral relations and to the familiarization with a new eastern vector in our cooperation and strategic partnership.
Last year the Russian-Indian trade turnover reached $ 7.7 billion. The first half of the current year inspires optimism - the volume of mutual trade grew by more than 20% compared to the same period of the last year. Such rates confirm that we have all chances by the middle of the next decade to reach double-digit indicators of our trade turnover - $ 30 billion or more as agreed by our leaders - President V.V. Putin and Prime Minister N. Modi.
The spectrum of our economic relations is great. One of the flagship projects is still the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and, in general, our cooperation in the nuclear sphere. At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum - 2017 agreements were reached on the construction of the 5th and 6th power units, now the site is being selected for the construction of six more Russian nuclear reactors.
A completely new, previously unused line of our cooperation is hydrocarbons, oil and natural gas, liquefied as well. Indian business circles are interested in the development of the resources of the Russian Arctic, and the Rosneft deal to acquire assets of the Indian company Essar Oil Limited, which will be the largest foreign investment in the Indian economy in the amount of 12.5 billion dollars – is over. We have good prospects for cooperation in the transport sector, in the aircraft industry (the production in India of the new Russian MC-21 aircraft), there are also other areas of cooperation and we are actively working on them.
In addition, just before the Forum opening, the Invest India company has announced the start of activity of a separate Russian department that will facilitate the inflow of Russian investments into the economy of India - rapidly developing country and a very promising partner of Russia.
I have not just mentioned the eastern direction of cooperation between our countries. It brings some new components including coal mining, the diamond industry, transport corridors. That is why a separate event is planned on the fields of the Eastern Economic Forum - the Russian-Indian business dialogue.
- Now it is actively discussed the possibility of Indian cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). What are the real prospects for creating a free trade zone? And what benefit can it bring to Russia?
- You have rightly mentioned about cooperation between India and the EAEU of which Russia is a leading participant. This is a logical and quite organic development of relations between our countries belonging to one continent. The building of political exchanges and the removal of obstacles to trade, investment, and other bilateral activities in this reality is simply a dictum of time that promises huge dividends to our states. The great work is doing to establish these ties. As far as I know, the first preliminary contacts have taken place. The negotiation modalities are being searched for and the directives for delegations of the parties are being formed. The prospects for the dialogue are good, and I hope that during this year we will receive good news from the negotiating track including the promotion of the Russian initiative on the formation of a wide area of mutually beneficial cooperation in Eurasia.
In short, the Russian-Indian relations are on the rise. We can successfully solve the emerging problems, we go hand in hand in solving key issues of world development on the UN platform. We are partners in creating a new model of international relations within the BRICS, we are jointly searching for ways to ensure security, to suppress new challenges and threats, develop new opportunities within the framework of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) of which India has recently become a member with our active support.
We also successfully cooperate on the platforms of many other regional organizations and structures such as the East Asia Summit, we have a common understanding of the need to build a new open non-confrontational, inclusive regional architecture in Asia and the Pacific.
In a word, the Russian-Indian highly privileged strategic partnership lives and acquires new features - it has become the fabric of our life - and this can only rejoice. And we expect that our relations, both political and economic, will be supplemented by new items.
Graduated from the Moscow State Institute (University) of International Relations under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR (1981); Doctorate from the Institute of Far Eastern Studies (1988)