President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here together with Mr Modi today to meet with top Russian and Indian businesspeople. This meeting is part of Mr Modi’s official visit to Russia. As you know, we make such visits regularly, every year, and dialogue with the business community is practically always an important part of these visits.
We are grateful that India has become the partner country for this year’s St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Prime Minister Modi was invited as the guest of honour and will address the plenary session tomorrow.
We value the fact that such a representative Indian delegation is taking part in the forum. This clearly demonstrates the solid nature of our trade and economic relations and their solid potential, and it also demonstrates the privileged nature of our strategic partnership.
This year, we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. Over these decades, first the Soviet Union and then Russia were active in building steel works, power stations, chemicals plants, gas pipelines, agribusiness facilities, and transport infrastructure. We in Russia are proud of this capital we have developed together.
We think it imperative now to discuss with you prospects for our further cooperation, look at possible new initiatives and projects, and listen to your views on cooperation.
I note that despite the decreases of recent years, our bilateral trade increased in 2016 and exceeded $7.7 billion. It is in our common interest to continue working energetically in this direction.
It is important to move from simply trading goods to more sophisticated forms of cooperation. We invite our partners to localise production in Russia. We know Prime Minister Modi’s idea regarding projects in India in areas where we can support each other and exchange modern technology. We can do this on a bilateral basis, of course, in areas where we are competitive at the global level.
I see good foundations here for deepening our bilateral investment ties. I am sure that if we work together, our businesspeople can create new, high value-added products and build production chains, including for promoting their goods and services on third country markets.
On the agenda we have the launch of promising joint projects in fundamental areas for the economy and high-tech sectors such as nuclear energy, the aerospace sector, and biotechnology. We need to look to the future, and the future is about harnessing the common powerful scientific and technical potential of both countries.
Russia’s market today offers every opportunity for carrying out the boldest business initiatives. We continue to improve our investment and business mechanisms, including with respect to foreign companies and citizens. We will use modern market instruments to stimulate growth in the high-tech sectors.
These are not one-off measures but are a carefully considered strategic policy aimed at further integrating our economy into the global system. The state authorities will therefore continue to support big projects, including projects in which your companies are taking part.
Friends, the great Indian statesman Mahatma Gandhi said “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” I think that businesspeople understand better than many where the modern economy is going and which areas and sectors are most promising, and, thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit and experience, can carry out even the boldest ideas and initiatives.
I wish the representatives of both countries’ business communities productive work at this St Petersburg International Economic Forum, and, of course, new interesting and promising joint projects.
Thank you for your attention.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated):Your Excellency President Putin, distinguished delegation members,
I am always greatly honoured to be present among business leaders from India and Russia.
In December 2015, when I first visited Moscow and attended an annual Indian-Russian summit, I had an opportunity to meet with many of you, I had an opportunity to hear from you and I also had an opportunity to share my thoughts and initiatives with you. It is a very important tradition when the heads of major companies from both countries get together, especially when they meet with the leaders of their countries and we find solutions on many issues. This also helps us better understand each other and lays the groundwork for future trade and cooperation.
Today, India and Russia are celebrating 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. It has been a long journey, starting from the time when India and the USSR established diplomatic relations based on trust. The relationship between India and Russia has always been special. We have always built this relationship on trust. We have expanded the scope of our cooperation and played a constructive role at the international level.
However, even more important is the fact that we have strong people-to-people ties. These ties have grown stronger, which helps us also strengthen our trust. Time and again, Russia has supported India on many issues at the international level. Russia has always supported us and stood by us.
The international community today understands how important our ties are, and in the rapidly changing global situation, trade, commerce and innovation are the areas that connect the world in an entirely different way. Companies, industrial groups, the business community – all of them play a very important role in this process.
Indian companies’ interest in Russia continues to grow, and Russia has been and remains attractive to them.
I remember in 2015 at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit and then at the same summit in 2017, I had the opportunity to meet with a business delegation from Russia. Even a Russian deputy prime minister attended Vibrant Gujarat and likewise India attended the 2016 INNOPROM exhibition as a partner country. Let me assure you that we will continue our participation in various events organised in Russia.
India is a major production hub. We would like to expand our production capacity to 16–17 percent of our GDP and we would like to develop production in India. Russian companies can participate in all our initiatives and cooperate with Indian companies. I would like to invite them to do so. I assure them that we will provide all the assistance required.
Recently, we agreed to foster strategic cooperation in defence. We made political decisions in this area. I invite your companies to participate in such political decisions so that they can decide for themselves how to cooperate with Indian companies. I invite you all to come to India and work with Indian companies.
Allow me to once again express our gratitude to President Putin because thanks to him our cooperation has become even stronger and more vibrant, and this has given a new impetus to these relations. I believe we will be able to see our dream of a new India come true.
Allow me once again to thank you for inviting me to this meeting.