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5 CMs head to Russian Far East as India balances China in region

The visit will set the stage for some big ticket investment announcements by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits Vladivostok in early September.

Last Updated: Jul 31, 2019, 09.09 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal will lead a delegation of five BJP chief ministers next month to the Russian Far East in a bid to stamp India’s presence in a resource-rich region currently dominated by China.

The visit will set the stage for some big ticket investment announcements by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits Vladivostok in early September. The PM will be the chief guest for 20th edition of the annual Eastern Economic Forum to be held in Vladivostok.

The delegation of Yogi Adityanath from Uttar Pradesh, Vijay Rupani from Gujarat, Devendra Fadnavis from Maharashtra, Pramod Sawant from Goa and Manohar Lal from Haryana will include a representative from Assam, officials said.

India is looking to gain from the investment-friendly Russian approach for the region, which includes significant tax breaks allowing Indian labour for projects. In fact, some of the Indian entities which are already engaged in some measure manage to employ large chunk of Indians in their factories, said officials.

In this context, India and Russia are working on signing a pact during Modi's trip, that will enable the presence of Indian manpower in Russia, including in the Far East region. Revival of the Chennai-Vladivostok shipping link is also on the cards.

The two countries are looking at collaboration in sectors such as diamond-processing, rare earths, petroleum and natural gas, tourism, infrastructure and agriculture. India is hoping to coverall a major part of shortfall in timber from this region.

A strong business delegation is also slated to accompany the CMs. The idea, officials said, is to enable cooperation between the Indian states and sister provinces in Russia’s easternmost territory, which could potentially lead to ‘match- making’ between them in specific sectors.

Uttar Pradesh expects to sign MoUs in agriculture, fertilisers, power and renewable energy during the visit to Vladivostok, the largest city in the territory, on August 12-13.

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The names of 38 UP companies working in areas like contract farming, food processing and renewable energy have been recommended to the Centre for inclusion in the delegation.

Russia, for its part, is keen to balance Chinese presence of the Chinese in this region. Russian deputy PM Yury Trutnev, who visited New Delhi following Modi’s re-election in May, said recently there will be no permanent land transfer to Chinese investors. Russia fears encroachment from China as it shares a border with the Far East territory, a sparsely populated area.

Trutnev had also announced that 80% of the workforce in Chinese projects in the Russian Far East must be locals.

President Vladimir Putin is keen to expedite development and economic projects in the Russian Far East, a region that serves as Moscow’s outreach to the Indo-Pacific region. Modi’s visit to Vladivostok would create a foundation for a concrete Indo-Russian partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, said people familiar with matter.

The Modi government is exploring a plan to source fresh water, which is abundance in the Russian Far East, to address the scarcity back home, ET has learnt. The region may serve as India’s gateway to the resource-rich Russian part of the Arctic.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)
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