Narendra Modi Speech at the 2021 Far Eastern Economic Forum

Posted by Written by Chris Devonshire-Ellis Reading Time: 4 minutes

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the Far Eastern Economic Forum via video link on Friday.

The forum is an important stage for regional leaders to discuss the development of Russian Asia and its integration into neighboring economies such as China, Mongolia, Japan, and South Korea, and to extend beyond this to other important markets, such as India. 

Modi’s speech didn’t contain anything specifically new but did underline the continuing and intended cooperation between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). 

The EAEU is a free trade bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia and stretches from West China to the borders of the European Union. 

India is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the EAEU with discussions on tariff reductions are still on-going. When these are finalized, the trade and development implications for Indian exports and investments into Russia in particular will become significant. Both India and Russia have expressed desire to increase bilateral trade to US$30 billion by 2025. To encourage that, the Chennai-Vladivostok direct maritime route has become operational, while the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) extends from India’s Mumbai Ports to Russia via Iran. That also provides direct trade connectivity to fellow EAEU members Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and access to Central Asia.

Modi’s speech followed that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose address contained much more in the intentions to develop the Russian Far East, with the introduction of business and personal tax and investment incentives. These will also have a knock-on effect of the development of India-Russia bilateral trade. Putin’s speech can be read over on our Russia Briefing portal.

Modi’s speech is as follows: 

President of the Russian Federation!
My dear friend President Putin!
Participants of the Eastern Economic Forum!

I am delighted to address the Eastern Economic Forum and thank President Putin for this honor.

In Indian history and civilization, the word ‘Sangam’ has a special meaning. It means confluence or coming together of rivers, people, or ideas. In my view, Vladivostok is truly a ‘Sangam’ of Eurasia and the Pacific. I applaud President Putin’s vision for the development of the Russian Far-East. India will be a reliable partner for Russia in realizing this vision. In 2019 when I had visited Vladivostok to attend the forum, I had announced India’s commitment to an “Act Far-East” policy. This policy is an important part of our special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia.

President Putin, I remember our detailed conversation during the boat ride from Vladivostok to Zvezda during my visit in 2019. You had shown me the modern ship-building facility at Zvezda and had expressed the hope that India would participate in this great enterprise. Today I am delighted that one of the India’s biggest shipyards, Mazagon Docks Limited will partner with ‘Zvezda’ for construction of some of the most important commercial ships in the world. India and Russia are partners in space exploration through the Gaganyaan program. India and Russia will also be partner in opening of the Northern Sea Route for international trade and Commerce.

The friendship between India and Russia has stood the test of time. Most recently it was seen in our robust cooperation during the Covid-19 pandemic including in vaccines. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the health and pharma sectors in our bilateral cooperation. Energy is another major pillar of our strategic partnership. India – Russia energy partnership can help bring stability to the global energy market. My Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Mr. Hardeep Puri is in Vladivostok to represent India at this forum Indian workers are participating in major gas projects in the Amur region, from Yamal to Vladivostok and onward to Chennai. We envisage an energy and trade bridge. I am happy that the Chennai – Vladivostok Maritime Corridor is making headway. This connectivity project along with the International North- South Corridor will bring India and Russia physically closer to each other. Despite the pandemic related restrictions there had been good progress in strengthening our business links in many areas. This includes long term supply of coking coal to the Indian steel industry. We are also exploring new opportunities in agro industry, ceramics, strategic and rare earth minerals, and diamonds. I am happy that diamond representative is from Sakha-Yakutia and Gujarat are having a separate interaction as part of this forum. I am confident that the US$1 billion soft credit line announced in 2019 will create many business opportunities between both countries.

It is also useful to bring together the most important stakeholders’ regions of the Russian Far East and relevant states in India on the same platform. We should take forward the useful discussions that took place during the visit of the Chief Ministers of key Indian states in 2019. I would like to extend an invitation for the Governors of 11 regions of the Russian Far East to visit India at the earliest.

As I said at this forum in 2019, Indian talent has contributed to the development of many resource-rich region of the world. India has a talented and dedicated workforce, while the Far- East is rich in resources. So, there is a tremendous scope for Indian workforce to contribute to the development of the Russian Far- East. The Far Eastern Federal University which is where this forum is being held is home to a growing number of students from India.

President Putin, I thank you again for giving me this opportunity to speak at this forum. You have always been a great friend of India and under your guidance our strategic partnership continues to grow from strength to strength. I wish all participants at the Eastern Economic forum every success.

Thank you!
Thank you very much!


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