Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Eastern Economic Forum (EEF)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EEF

Mains level : Read the attached story

eef

Russia hosted the seventh Eastern Economic Forum- EEF Vladivostok from September 5 to 8. The four-day forum is a platform for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses into Russia’s Far East (RFE).

What is the Eastern Economic Forum-EEF?

  • The EEF was established in 2015 aiming to encourage foreign investments in the RFE to display:
  1. Economic potential
  2. Suitable business conditions and
  3. Investment opportunities in the region
  • Focus areas: The agreements focus on infrastructure, transportation projects, mineral excavations, construction, industry and agriculture.
  • With EEF, Russia is trying to attract the Asian economies in investing and developing the Far East.
  • This year, the Forum aimed at connecting the Far East with the Asia-Pacific

What does the EEF aim for?

eef

  • FDI inflows: The primary objective of the EEF is to increase the Foreign Direct Investments in the RFE.
  • Natural resource exploitation: The region encompasses one-third of Russia’s territory and is rich with natural resources such as fish, oil, natural gas, wood, diamonds and other minerals.
  • Demographic revamp: The sparse population living in the region is another factor for encouraging people to move and work in the Far East.
  • Unleashing economic potential: The region’s riches and resources contribute to five percent of Russia’s GDP.

Success of EEF

  • Agreements signed at the EEF increased from 217 in 2017 to 380 agreements in 2021, worth 3.6 trillion roubles.
  • As of 2022, almost 2,729 investment projects are being planned in the region.
Who are the major actors in the EEF?
  • China is the biggest investor in the region as it sees potential in promoting the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and the Polar Sea Route in the RFE.
  • China’s investments in the region account for 90% of the total investments.
  • South Korea has invested in shipbuilding projects, manufacturing of electrical equipment, gas-liquefying plants, agricultural production and fisheries.
  • Japan is another key trading partner. In 2017, its investments through 21 projects amounted to $16 billion.

How does Russia see Chinese investment in EEF?

  • Russia has been welcoming Chinese investments since 2015; more now than ever due to the economic pressures caused by the war in Ukraine.
  • The Trans-Siberian Railway has further helped Russia and China in advancing trade ties.
  • The countries share a 4000-km-long border, which enables them to tap into each other’s resources with some infrastructural assistance.
  • China is also looking to develop its Heilongjiang Province which connects with the RFE.
  • Both nations have invested in a fund to develop connectivity between the cities of Blagoveshchensk and Heihe.

India and Russia’s Far East

  • India seeks to expand its influence in the RFE.
  • In 2019, India also offered a $1 billion line of credit to develop infrastructure in the region.
  • During the forum, PM Modi expressed the country’s readiness in expanding trade, connectivity and investments in Russia.
  • India is keen to deepen its cooperation in energy, pharmaceuticals, maritime connectivity, healthcare, tourism, the diamond industry and the Arctic.

Strategic significance of EEF for Russia

  • Gateway to Asia: The RFE is geographically placed at a strategic location; acting as a gateway into Asia.
  • Negating the Ukrainian war impact: The Ukraine war is a worrying issue as it affects the economic growth of the country.
  • Surviving sanctions: Although, the EEF is an annual gathering, the forum comes at an opportune time for Russia who is dealing with the impact of the sanctions.
  • Supply chain resilience: The IPEF will also play a key role in building resilient supply chains.

Will India be able to strike a balance between the EEF and IPEF?

  • Both are incomparable: The US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) and the EEF are incomparable based on its geographic coverage and the partnership with the host-countries.
  • India values both: India has not shied away from investing in the Russia-initiated EEF despite the current international conditions.
  • India is firm for its purpose: At the same time, India has given its confirmation and acceptance to three of the four pillars in the IPEF.

Conclusion

  • India understands the benefits of being involved in the development in the RFE but it also perceives the IPEF as a vital platform to strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • India’s participation in the forum will help in disengaging from supply chains that are dependent on China and will also make it a part of the global supply chain network.

 

Also read:

[Sansad TV] Perspective: Russia’s Far East- Opportunities for India

 

 

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