SCO and BRICS: SCO and BRICS: Russia and India: Strategic Cooperation Today
17 March 2021

Relations between Russia and India have the character of a special privileged strategic partnership, which makes it possible to develop cooperation in different  spheres such as energy, industry, science and technology, despite the numerous transformations taking place in the global arena. 

According to the Federal Customs Service of the RF, in the first 9 months of 2020, trade between Russia and India amounted to the 6.35 billion USD, which is 16.26% less than in the same period of 2019. Russian exports to India amounted to 3.93 billion USD (-18.77% by 2019). The main share of export supplies fell on mineral products - 23.01%, chemical products - 19.17%, as well as machinery and equipment - 17.62%. Russia's imports from India amounted to 2.42 billion USD (-11.82% by 2019). The main share of supplies fell on the products of the chemical industry - 31.07%, machinery and equipment - 28.88%, food products and agricultural raw materials - 19.27%. India occupied 15th place in Russian trade turnover. 

Despite the reduction in the volume of foreign trade operations this year, caused by objective reasons, the countries have set the task of increasing mutual trade turnover to 30 billion USD by 2025. 

Today, a number of large projects are being implemented in Russia and India in the hydrocarbon sector, the chemical industry, pharmaceuticals, and the diamond industry. «NK Rosneft» owns a share in the Indian company Nayara Energy, which assets include an oil refinery, a port and a network of 5,000 filling stations. 

The Novolipetsk Metallurgical Plant continues work on organizing the production of transformer steel in India. SIBUR Holding and Reliance Industries Ltd are implementing a project to build the first butyl and halogenated rubber production complex in South Asia. On the territory of the Russian Federation, the construction of a plant for Flex Films Rus, a subsidiary of the Indian company UflexGroup for the production of biodegradable polyester film in the SEZ in Stupino, Moscow Region, is in the phase of completion. In the implementation of this project, India is an investor with a total funding of 5 billion Rbls. 

Cooperation between Russian and Indian railways continues, within the framework of which «Russian Railways International» is attracting a large conglomerate of companies, including «Ircon International Limited», to work on projects.

One of the flagship projects is the offshore seismic surveys on the western continental shelf of India by the Russian joint stock company «Rosgeologia», «Sevmorneftegeofiziki» (SMNG) and the Indian state oil and gas corporation ONGC. 

Indian companies, in particular the state oil company «ONGK Videsh Ltd.», are involved in the oil and gas projects Sakhalin-1, Vankorneft, Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha. A subsidiary of the Indian company «Tata Power», «Far Eastern Natural Resources», is developing the Krutogorovsky coal deposit in the Kamchatka Territory. 

According to experts' forecasts, the expected volume of oil production under the Vostok Oil project will amount to about 100 million tons per year by 2030. Thanks to this, India will be able to count on an increase in the volume of oil supplies from Russia. This is especially important for the Indian part, which does not have its own oil reserves.

Promising areas of cooperation are the fuel and energy complex, including oil production projects on the Indian Ocean shelf and the participation of Indian companies in the development of the Arctic shelf, Sakhalin-2 and Sakhalin-3 projects, nuclear energy, high technologies and communications, mineral fertilizers, pharmaceuticals. 

The oil reserves of the Arctic cluster indicate the high prospects of the Vostok Oil project, which has an undeniable advantage due to its location - in the immediate vicinity of the Northern Sea Route. This will make it possible to supply oil simultaneously in two directions: both to the European and Asian markets, and the presence of «Rosneft»'s own fleet will greatly facilitate the supply of large volumes of raw materials. In addition, the participation of Indian oil companies in the 157 billion USD Vostok Oil project will influence the India's economic growth. New Delhi needs to meet the growing demand for all energy sources, including LNG and ecologically clean fuels. The contract between «Rosneft» and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. for 2 million tons of oil is very important for meeting India's energy needs.

TVEL Fuel Company (Rosatom) supplies India with uranium pellets intended for the production of nuclear fuel at the first Indian nuclear power plant. Fuel pellets for nuclear power plants are manufactured at the Machine-Building Plant in the Moscow Region and are intended for use at the Tarapur nuclear power plant at the site of the National Fuel Complex in the city of Hyderabad. Tarapur NPP is the first nuclear power plant built in India in 1969. Today the station includes two power units with «boiling water reactors» of 150 MW each and two units with heavy water reactors of 490 MW each. 

TVEL has long year experience in supplying this product to India for BWR and PHWR reactors, which confirms the high quality and competitiveness of the Russian products. TVEL also successfully operates in the Indian market, supplying nuclear fuel  for the power units of the Kudankulam NPP under a long-term contract with the Indian atomic energy corporation - Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). 

New vectors of cooperation in the field of nuclear energy include the construction of nuclear power plants in African countries, including Ethiopia, and the Middle East. These Russian projects will be implemented with the participation of India. According to a similar scheme, a joint project for the construction of the Rooppur NPP is being implemented in Bangladesh. The start of commercial operation of the first power unit is scheduled for 2023, the second - for 2024. It is worth emphasizing that such projects are of particular strategic importance for both countries. 

India also shows high interest in the export of timber from Siberia and the Far East. The declared demand of Indian timber imports is comparable to that of China. At the expense of Russian supplies, India intends to close the resulting shortage of timber on the domestic market. 

The Russian Foundation for Basic Research has been cooperating with the Department of Science and Technology of India in the field of basic and applied sciences for over 10 years. The developing Roadmap  will help strengthen business ties between laboratories, scientific communities, universities and organizations in priority areas of scientific and technical cooperation in the field of ICT. Among them there are tasks in the development and production of electronic systems, software, programming for supercomputers, electronic government, cybersecurity, financial technology, the Internet of things, standardization, regulation of the use of the radio frequency spectrum. 

It should be noted that important long-term cooperation in the space sphere is the satellite systems GLONASS and NavIK, space exploration for peaceful purposes, the development of manned space programs and accompanying scientific projects, cooperation in the field of the satellite constellation of remote sensing of the Earth of the BRICS countries. Russia and India also intend to further unite efforts in various areas of digital technologies - the development of artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, 5G. Both countries have large technological reserves in these areas. 

In November 2020, the third International Russian-Indian program in the development of mobile and web applications was launched in Sochi between the «Sirius» Educational Center and the Indian organization «Atal Innovation Mission» (AIM). The program takes place in an online format, 24 people from each side take part in it. 

The strategic partnership between India and Russia will also expand in the field of medicine. For today, the Russian Federation has received requests from different countries for more than a billion doses of coronavirus vaccine. RDIF signed an agreement with Indian companies to produce more than 300 million doses of «Sputnik V» vaccine per year. In addition, cooperation is developing in the field of production of medical supplies and new high-tech solutions actively created by start-ups in Russia and India. The preparation of an agreement on a free trade zone between the EAEU and India will also contribute to the free movement of capital. 

The SME sector also has prospects for cooperation with India. Today, every Russian company, regardless of its size, can enter the Indian market, where engineering services are in demand, aimed at optimizing production and new technologies. In agriculture, for example, these are technologies, solutions and equipment used to improve infrastructure, technical modernization of food production. In the field of information technology - digitalization of the healthcare system, as well as education, including distance education. 

The Indian Business Alliance, whose task is to promote cooperation between the business circles of the two countries, has been operating in Moscow for over 30 years. The head of the Indian Business Alliance (IBA) Association Sammy Kotwani said in an interview with WTC Moscow: “Over the past 5 years, all foreign companies have had rather difficult times due to devaluation. Import has become very expensive. But none of the members of the Indian Business Alliance closed their businesses and left the Russian market. We believe that the future belongs to the Russian market. This is the most profitable country for the development of our business. Russian-Indian business will only grow. "

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