President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, colleagues,
I am happy to have this opportunity to meet again with leading representatives of the Russian and Indian business circles and to have a dialogue on pressing issues and prospects for bilateral economic ties. I would like to stress that such communication actually helps develop mutual trade and investment.
During our talks, Mr Modi and I discussed measures required for the creation of most favourable conditions for the furthering of our business ties. One particular matter is ensuring greater freedom of movement for business people. Today we will sign an intergovernmental protocol that would ease the visa requirements for business people in Russia and India.
As we all know, unfortunately, there has been a certain slump in our trade and economic cooperation. This is primarily due to external factors, of course: fluctuations in demand and supply, currency volatility. Therefore, our main task here is to use every opportunity to diversify Russian-Indian relations and to actively promote projects in such areas as high technologies, aviation and machine building, medicine and the diamond industry.
This is further promoted through regular contacts between Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, between the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and the Confederation of Indian Industry. I would like to note that leading Russian companies have gained a strong foothold on the Indian market and are actively involved in upgrading the Indian production base and developing its infrastructure. Among them are Rosatom, Gazprom, Russian Railways, Silovyie Mashiny, Lukoil, Sistema, Rosneft and Renova.
We have serious achievements in energy, primarily nuclear energy, and in the oil and gas industry. We are completing the construction of the first stage of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant consisting of two generating units. We will shortly commence the construction of another two units. Overall, we plan to build 12 nuclear power units in India over 20 years using Russian technologies.
Our two countries’ energy companies are expanding their joint work in oil exploration, production and refining. This year Rosneft together with the Indian concern Essar have agreed on crude oil shipments – 10 million tonnes a year for 10 years to supply a refinery in the state of Gujarat. Gazprom is implementing long-term agreements on shipments of liquefied natural gas to India, including from the Russian Arctic shelf. Such major deals designed to last decades speak of our confidence in the future of our business relations based on trust.
Our cooperation in hydro and thermal power engineering is traditionally developing well. Silovyie Mashiny is working on the modernisation of turbo-units at India’s Sipat, Obra and Loktak thermal power plants.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund together with India’s Tata Power are working on the possibility of funding energy projects, including the production of clean energy.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund and an Indian infrastructural development financing company have agreed on joint investment of up to $1 billion.
Cooperation in the diamond cutting industry has picked up speed. In the first nine months of this year, Alrosa has shipped $1.2 billion worth of products to their Indian partners. A special customs zone is being created at the Mumbai diamond exchange to expand cooperation.
Our two countries’ economies are facing complicated tasks dealing with support for national production and import replacement. I find the plans of Russian businessmen to join the Make in India initiative very farsighted. Thus, Sibur is already building in Jamnagar one of the biggest butyl rubber production facilities in Asia. Other Russian companies are also working in this direction.
We are interested in seeing our Indian partners more actively opening their facilities in Russia. A good example here is the project by Cadila to launch production of pharmaceuticals in Yaroslavl Region in 2016. We support our partners’ determination to have long-term successful projects in Russia. We will do everything possible to make them comfortable here as they expand their businesses.
Despite the complicated global economic situation, the main macroeconomic parameters in Russia remain stable, one of them being the unemployment rate. We know this is affected by many other factors, and it is quite low here – 5.6 percent. A moderate external debt also indicates that the Russian economy is stable. Our gold and foreign currency reserves remain high – at about $364.5 billion, while the trade balance surplus is $126.3 billion.
The state is doing everything necessary to improve the investment climate, perfecting legal mechanisms, corporate, tax and anti-monopoly legislation and reducing the administrative burden. These measures have made it possible for Russia to rise from the 124th to the 51 place in the World Bank’s Doing Business rating in the past five years.
The launch of the Eurasian Economic Union offers new opportunities for expanding business ties. Indian companies can operate on this market with millions of consumers using common, more liberal terms. I would like to remind you that the Union was created on the same principles as the WTO.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that we are interested in the closest possible constructive cooperation between Russian and Indian business circles. We will further carefully follow your businesses and your proposals and help you implement your joint projects.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Friends, colleagues,
There are many people here who are interested in developing our relations from both India and Russia. Obviously, I know the Russian representatives very well, have known them for many years, but I also see many familiar faces among the Indian businessmen.
Here is what I have been thinking: if Mr Prime Minister agrees, we could do the following. It is hard to give everyone the floor and look into all the issues we are dealing with within the framework of such a visit, considering the number of people here. However, if you find this interesting, we could do the following: we could ask the organisers of this meeting from both the Russian and Indian side to hold meetings a couple of times a year to discuss economic cooperation between businesses. They could alternately get together in Russia and in India. On my part, I am ready to take part in such meetings, see you all and hear you out, and study the issues with my colleagues from the Russian Government.
If Mr Prime Minister does not mind, we could ask him to also get involved when you get together in India and to take part in your work.