13 – 14 September 2018 in New Delhi, India a high-level workshop on “India-Russia in the 21st Century: Enhancing the Special Priviliged Strategic Partnership” took place. The event was co-hosted by the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Research Foundation and the Russian International Affairs Council and took place at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial.
The expert discussions focused on the question of how India and Russia ought to innovate their cooperation accros such sectors as free trade, connectivty projects, digital technology and soft power in keeping with the current mutual requirements and geopolitics to bring momentum to their strategic partnership in the Greater Eurasian space.
Yuri Kofner, head, Eurasian sector, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, Higher School of Economics (Russia), research assistant, IIASA (Austria) gave a report on the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the potentials of comprehensive trade and economic cooperation between India and the EAEU.
The participants of the high-level seminar included: Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship of India; Prof. K Vijay Raghavan, Scientific Adviser to the PM of India; Dr. Bibek Debroy, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council of PM of India; Dr. Swapan Dasgupta, Member of Parilament of India; Dr. Sudir Mishra, Director-General, BrahMos Missile Porgram; Ambassador Gleb Ivashentsov, Vice-President, Russian International Affairs Council; Dr. Shakti Sinha, Director, Nehru Memorial Museum Library; Dr. Anirban Ganguly, Director, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Research Foundation (SPMRF); Vijay Chauthaiwale, Chairman of Foreign Policy, Bharatiya Janata Partyl; Ambassador Asoke Mukherji, f. Permament Representative of India to the United Nations; Andrey Shevlyakov, CEO, Rosatom South Asia; and others.
The workshop lasted two days and was divided into several sessions on economic, security, political and humanitarian cooperation, respectivly.
The session on Indo-Russian economic cooperation and the geoeconomics of Greater Eurasia was opened by Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, Senior Editor, Economic Times who gave a summary of his interview with Tigran Sargsyan, Chairman, Eurasian Economic Commission on how the “Eurasian Economic Union aims to sign major trade deal with India”.
Ambassador Askoke Mukerji, laid down a roadmap for India-Russia cooperation in Russian Far East:
- Modernization and utilization of the Chennai port and the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime route through the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca;
- Building on the creation of business links in sourcing raw materials from Siberia to India in diamonds other minerals;
- Identification of agricultural cooperation as a priority in the Russian Far East;
- Indian small and medium enterprise participation in 16 projects submitted by Russian Far East to the AIIB.
Yuri Kofner gave a report on “Potentials for India – EAEU Cooperation: Trade, Connectivity and Public Diplomacy”. Despite the fact that both sides are to each other potential large markets, current trade turnover is insignificant (only $10.8 billion in 2017), which means, however, large untapped potentials for trade growth. Under the planned EAEU-India FTA agreement trade turnover between the parties could grow up by 30-40% from the current level depending on the depth of tariff liberalization. The total increase in the EAEU countries’ GDP can reach about $ 1.4 billion in the short term and $ 2.7 billion in the long term. Liberalization of the current trade regime could help to increase India’s GDP by more than 3%.
The economist pointed out that the envisaged India-EAEU partnership should go beyond a “traditional” free trade agreement and include cooperation in areas such as: services, intellectual property, digital economy, investments, transport, energy, government procurement.
Unfortunately, more detailed research on the challenges and potentials for increased trade and economic cooperation between India and the Eurasian Economic Union is still relatively rare. The participants of the workshop agreed that special attention should be given to econometric modeling, to the analysis of bottle necks and to a stocktaking of business interests from both sides.