Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 23.2017
2017.05.29 — 2017.06.04
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
How the entry of India and Pakistan transforms the SCO's agenda (Как вступление Индии и Пакистана изменяет повестку дня ШОС) / Russia, May, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India_China, SCO, OBOR
Author: Boris Volkhonsky

India's entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in June could help Russia challenge China's power within the grouping. With the two South Asian countries on board, the SCO will look to address regional problems such as water security and the situation in Afghanistan.

The upcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Astana, Kazakhstan, on June 8-9 is set to formally announce a new security architecture that covers 60 percent of Eurasia and will have long-lasting implications for the whole world.

With India and Pakistan officially acquiring full membership of the organization, the total population of SCO countries will be almost 3.5 billion (which roughly accounts for a half of humanity) and the combined GDP (measured in absolute figures) will surpass 25 percent of the global GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity, PPP, it will be much higher). Thus, in all ways the SCO is destined to become the cornerstone of economics and politics of Eurasia and a game-changer for the global agenda.

What could change

Much has already been said on the prospects of SCO enlargement. It is clear that it will give a new powerful impetus to all integration processes in Eurasia whatever countries may be their originators. Bringing countries such as Russia, India and China (already constructively cooperating in formats as RIC, BRICS and G20) together under one umbrella is also an important and necessary prerequisite for working out a program for addressing global issues such as terrorism, the arms race, poverty and famine, contagious diseases and epidemics, natural and technical catastrophes, climate change and water shortages.

Ever since its creation in 2001, some critics of the SCO have been constantly saying that this is a China-led and China-owned project initiated with the sole purpose of ensuring China's expansion in Eurasia and establishing China's dominance over the neighboring countries – at least economically, but subsequently politically as well.

Indeed, China being the world's second largest economy (in terms of PPP, the largest), is definitely the leader and engine of all economic processes happening on the continent. With the One Belt, One Road initiative (OBOR) initially put forward in 2013 and currently gaining momentum, China's leading role is sure to be manifested in all aspects, including the organization it participates in.

With regards to the SCO, China has constantly made efforts to bring the economic issues to the top of its agenda (which would have eventually and inevitably resulted in turning the SCO into yet another tool of Beijing). And it has required efforts on the part of Russia and other countries to maintain the balance between economic and security issues as two equal tasks of the organization.

OBOR and the INSTC

The SCO enlargement is sure to add a new dimension to the integration in Eurasia. While many observers look upon OBOR and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) initiated by Russia, India and Iran as competitive projects, it may well be noted that the two lie along two different vectors (OBOR going basically in the East-West direction, NSTC, as implied by its name, in the North-South). This creates a closed and complete configuration of transport routes encompassing the whole of Asia and Eastern Europe. For Russia and India, this provides an opportunity to overcome the most serious obstacle for their bilateral trade – a lack of connectivity.

On the other hand, the implementation of OBOR (especially its land part and most notably China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) may violate the existing status quo in this part of the world. In that sense, India's decision not to participate in the forum is quite understandable. The only concern is that if the two sides remain stubborn and uncompromising beyond the reasonable level, it may lead to consequences exceeding far beyond the particular issue.

Surely, hardly anyone within the SCO would like to see the Kashmir issue being brought to the table. But it is no secret that Pakistan has long been insisting on its internationalization. With China actively building the corridor via Gilgit-Baltistan, the issue already may have become a trilateral one. Therefore, a unified approach of the SCO members is needed in order to prevent the issue from arising on the organization's agenda and bring it back to the bilateral consideration of India and Pakistan.

The combined economies of Russia and India may not be as big as China's economy, but adding the political (and military) weight, the two may form a considerable counterweight to China's dominance

What is very important to mention, is the inevitable transformation of the SCO's agenda after India and Pakistan formally join it as full members. With India's accession, the situation changes radically. The combined economies of Russia and India may not be as big as China's economy, but adding the political (and military) weight, the two may form a considerable counterweight to China's dominance. So, even with the BRICS Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) already being in operational stage, a new SCO bank with the purposes of financing projects within the organization's domain without any bias and undue preferences may well become a good idea.

Water security

Another issue, seldom talked about, but sure to create serious problems for the whole region is that of sharing the water resources, especially on trans-border rivers and other water reserves. The Indus Water Treaty of 1960 between India and Pakistan has long been looked upon as an exemplary one providing a base for peaceful settlement of water disputes even during most tense and hostile periods of the bilateral relations. But in the latest years, too many developments on both sides of the Line of Control have taken place, which may be regarded as violations of the basics of the treaty. The latest ones are China's plans to invest dozens of billions of dollars into hydropower projects in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir, which was an additional reason for India not to participate in the Silk Road Forum.

China's activity on the Brahmaputra River is yet another matter of concern for India. In fact, China enjoys the monopolistic status in that regard, controlling the sources of most of the great Eurasian rivers. But when it comes to the interests of the downstream countries, China tends to discuss the issues on the bilateral grounds with its immediate neighbors only.

For example, the Irtysh River, originating in China, further flows to Kazakhstan and then to Russia. China is ready to discuss the matter of its activities on the upstream Irtysh and its tributaries with Kazakhstan, but not with Russia, although the effects may be felt as far down the river as Omsk in Western Siberia.

This situation with China is also worsened by the fact that there are no internationally recognized and binding laws on trans-border water sharing. Therefore, working out at least a regional Convention within the SCO framework may become an urgent task for the organization. In this respect, India's participation and experience may be very helpful.

Solving the Afghanistan problem

Last but surely not least, there is a matter of Afghanistan (which, since 2012, has had observer status within SCO). Surely, the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. But this does not exclude the participation of and assistance from the neighboring countries. With almost all of them (except Turkmenistan) being united within the framework of one organization, it imposes serious obligations and responsibility on the SCO as a whole and each member state in particular.

What is urgently needed is working out a unified and coordinated approach to Afghanistan by all SCO members (including observers, like Iran) – whatever bilateral differences and tensions may be between them. The gravest mistake would be a return to the 1990s when all external parties were trying to use their levers within Afghanistan in order to gain unilateral advantages for themselves. The result of this approach is too well known – an all-out war, which eventually led to the victory of the most cruel and unscrupulous force, the Taliban. This is hardly the best option for today's Afghanistan, and subsequently, for any of its neighbors.

In fact, every one of the above problems may become a stumbling stone for the enlarged SCO. It requires wisdom and tolerance on the part of all those concerned to avoid falling into the numerous traps. Still, the long history of relations in this part of Eurasia has shown that wisdom is present in the minds of most statesmen and helps them bypass most difficult situations.

Dr. Boris Volkhonsky is an independent analyst and professional Indologist from Russia. He speaks Hindi, Urdu, Sinhalese, and reads Sanskrit. Previously, he held the position of the Deputy Head of the Center for Asia and the Middle East at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies and taught at Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Russian State University for the Humanities.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's speech at a reception for Africa Day, Moscow, May 31, 2017 (Выступление министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на приеме в День Африки, Москва, 31 мая 2017 года) / Russia, May, 2017
Keywords: Russia_Africa, BRICS_Africa, official_visit


Ladies and gentlemen,

Your Excellencies,

I would like to extend my heartfelt greetings to all those present on Africa Day.

President Vladimir Putin sent his traditional message of greetings to the heads of African states and governments in which he praised the successes of African countries in diverse spheres, as well as Africa's growing role in forming a fair and democratic multipolar international order. We confirm our readiness to further expand our wide-ranging cooperation.

Russia's consistently friendly, partner relations with African states, based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, have stood the test of time and continue developing. Yesterday and today's talks with the delegations of Nigerian and Zambian friends that are present here and are headed by Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and Zambian Foreign Minister Harry Kalaba reaffirmed their shared determination to deepen and diversify partnership and search for new, promising areas of cooperation.

We are developing high-level and top-level political dialogue, promoting our inter-parliamentary ties and expanding cooperation between foreign ministries. This year alone Moscow played host to the foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Zambia, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Eritrea. Following the talks the sides confirmed that their positions align on most international issues and ways of addressing security challenges and threats.

Russia is interested in developing cooperation with the African Union and other African associations. We value our regular political consultations with their leaders.

We are in favour of deepening the BRICS-Africa dialogue that was launched in Durban in 2013.

Socioeconomic progress is inseparable from our ability to ensure peace and security. We support the efforts of Africans to prevent and settle conflicts, including building up their own peacekeeping capacity. We are ready to broaden our cooperation in fighting international terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and piracy.

We support the principle that African problems require African solutions. We are convinced that African countries know better than anyone else how to overcome difficulties on the path to peace, stability and sustainable development. The world community is called upon to help Africans and support these aspirations.

There are good opportunities for promoting trade and economic ties. We support the interest in expanding Russian business activity in Africa and the implementation of regional projects on mineral resources, energy infrastructure and agriculture.

We will continue carrying out debt-for-development programmes and using most favoured nation status in trade.

We will continue rendering humanitarian aid to African states, including as part of the UN and the G20, to African countries that have fallen victim to conflicts, natural and man-made disasters and pandemics.

The number of Africans studying in Russian universities is growing every year. There are about 15,000 students in Russia now.

The start of dialogue between the African Union Commission and the Commission of the Eurasian Economic Union is a new undertaking. We have an extensive and ambitious agenda.

Today, on Africa Day, I would like to wish you new achievements on this road. Congratulations to you once again. I wish you all the best.

Chinese envoy calls on int'l community to support mass entrepreneurship, innovation in EMDC (Китайский посланник призывает международное сообщество поддержать массовое предпринимательство, инновации в EMDC) / China, June, 2017
Keywords: China_world, ECOSOC

China's permanent representative to the United Nations Liu Jieyi Wednesday called on the international community to support mass entrepreneurship and innovation, innovation-driven development and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), so as to create jobs.

Liu made the remarks in his statement delivered at the 2017 ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) Special Meeting on "Innovations in Infrastructure Development and Sustainable Industrialization" on behalf of the BRICS inter-governmental grouping, as China has held the presidency of the group this year.

Liu noted that innovation, industrialization, and infrastructure development, as crucial components of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are of utter importance to carrying out the agenda.

In this regard, Liu put forward three concrete suggestions. First, the international community should help the Emerging Markets and Developing Countries (EMDCs) enhance their capacity in technological research, development and innovation and create a favorable policy environment for innovation. He stressed that support should be given to investment and training in technological innovation, so as to back developing countries in their implementation of strategies and policies to stimulate innovation and provide encouraging conditions for enterprises and startups to innovate.

Second, the international community should attach great importance to the need for infrastructure construction of the EMDCs, especially African countries, the least developed countries, land-locked developing countries and small island developing states, helping them develop good-quality, reliable and sustainable infrastructure.

Moreover, a hand should also be given to the EMDCs to seize the opportunities to enhance industrialization, achieve growth and create jobs in a sustainable, inclusive and transparent way.

Finally, in the age of globalization with the accelerated integration of the global economy and of international supply chains, the international community should actively promote the free flow of capital, technologies, commodities and goods, and value the vital role that professionals and workers play in boosting economic growth, in order to ensure the free flow of such personnel.

Liu also noted that BRICS countries are willing to work together with all relevant parties to strength practical cooperation in transportation, energy pipelines, electronics, fiber optics and telecommunications among others, promote regional economic integration, as well as further international cooperation in innovation, infrastructure and industrialization, in consistent efforts to achieve sustainable development goals.

The envoy stressed that the BRICS countries held that technological innovation, which they have long been committed to, has been a key driving force for the global and regional economic and social development.

BRICS countries has given their priorities to cooperation in the fields of new energy, renewable energy, information technology, high performance computing and nanotechnology. With the establishment of the BRICS New Development Bank, the first batch of loans would be given to premium and innovative programs related to smart, new energy and renewable energy, according to Liu.

In recent years, the BRICS organization, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has become an important, multi-layer cooperative system led by the annual BRICS summit and supported by practical cooperation among relevant parties in various fields for EMDCs.

As the hosting country of the ninth BRICS Summit, China will hold the fifth BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, in July, so as to promote mass entrepreneurship and innovation, innovation-driven development in the interests of developing countries and their peoples and facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Press statements following Russian-Indian talks (Заявления для прессы после российско-индийских переговоров) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, SPIEF

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I am pleased to once again welcome Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to Russia on his official visit, and to thank him for accepting our invitation.

Annual Russian-Indian meetings at the highest level have been held for many years now and have become a good and useful tradition.

Our talks are always held in a warm and friendly atmosphere, and are always substantive and productive. This time was no exception.

I will note one important distinction of Mr Modi's current visit. This year, India is a partner country of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, so tomorrow the Prime Minister of India will address the forum's plenary session as the main guest of honour.

I would also like to point out that 2017 is a special year for Russia-India relations. Diplomatic relations between our states were established 70 years ago. Bilateral cooperation has been developing steadily across all areas in the decades since, on a friendly and mutually beneficial basis. And now the Russian-Indian partnership has a genuinely strategic and especially privileged nature.

Today, the Prime Minister and I considered in detail the implementation of the decisions taken during the previous summit in Goa, and outlined new joint plans for the future. Our agreements made it into the St Petersburg Declaration adopted by us. It outlines steps to further deepen our bilateral cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres.

Encouraging the growth of trade, improving its structure, and expanding industrial cooperation constitute our key priority. As we are aware, bilateral trade was declining in recent years. We are pleased to note that this trend reversed this year, and bilateral trade is on the rise. It is gratifying to note that it was up 29 percent already in the first quarter of 2017.

Bilateral investment is also demonstrating positive dynamics. Russia's cumulative investment in the Indian economy has exceeded $4 billion, and the relevant figure for Indian investment in Russia is $8 billion.

All these facts show that Russian-Indian economic cooperation is returning to a growth trajectory, and we both have a stake in consolidating this positive trend.

Effective work of the Intergovernmental Commission is playing a special role in this respect. We see the importance of assistance to businesses to promote major mutually advantageous joint projects.

As of today the sides have agreed a list of 19 projects aimed at establishing joint ventures for transport infrastructure, new technology, including pharmaceuticals, aircraft and automobile manufacturing, the diamond industry, and agriculture.

We just met with representatives of the business community and saw their interest in developing full-scale cooperation.

I would like to draw attention to our successful cooperation in the civilian nuclear industry, which was noted in my conversation with the Prime Minister. The first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was put into operation. The most reliable, latest Russian technology was used in its construction. The plant's second unit has also started to generate electricity. At a joint teleconference in October 2016 with Narendra Modi we launched the construction of the plant's third and fourth units. And we reaffirmed our intention to build in India at least 12 Russian-designed energy units, which will make a large contribution to the development of India's nuclear industry.

We also agreed with our Indian partners to deepen cooperation in the military-technical field on the basis of a bilateral programme through 2020.

Notably, our cooperation is not limited to direct supplies of the latest Russian military equipment to our Indian partners. The assembly of high-tech military products has been set up in India with Russia's participation. We agreed with the Prime Minister to continue to jointly develop and manufacture modern weapons systems.

Of course, the cultural sphere is another important component of the Russian-Indian partnership. The 2017–2019 Cultural Exchanges Programme is designed to further expand such exchanges. I reiterate that the peoples of our countries have always felt a profound affinity for each other and taken a genuine interest in each other's culture, history and spiritual values. The Festival of Indian Culture is currently being held in Russia, which was received with great interest by the Russian public. The Festival of Russian Culture held in India last year received many positive reviews.

Of course, Mr Modi and I focused in particular on international affairs. We agreed to continue to cooperate in the UN and other multilateral formats, such as BRICS, including, incidentally, the Russia-India-China trilateral format and the G20, and to work together to promote security and stability in Asia, and the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean regions. In this regard, Russia welcomes India joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full-fledged official member. Its full accession will be formalised at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Astana on June 8–9, that is, one week from now.

Of course, we discussed other areas of our interaction. We will have another opportunity to talk in private today. We agreed to meet later in the day and to talk about the situation in Syria, Afghanistan, and other hot spots. I believe such confidential one-on-one exchanges have become customary, and I really appreciate this format.

In closing, I would like to thank the Prime Minister, and all our Indian friends, for a constructive and productive dialogue. I am confident that our agreements will help promote Russian-Indian strategic partnership across all areas and will contribute to strengthening friendship between the peoples of our countries.

Thank you for your attention.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated):Your Excellency President Putin, distinguished members of the Russian and Indian delegations,

I am greatly honoured to be here in St Petersburg, President Putin's hometown. A historical event is connected with this city, with my political career. In 2001, as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, I accompanied the Indian Prime Minister to St Petersburg. I remember President Putin and our Prime Minister standing while I was seated, signing a treaty.

Sixteen years later, I am back in St Petersburg, and I have the opportunity, as the Prime Minister of India, to be on the same stage with President Putin. I express our gratitude to you for the warm welcome given to our delegation. It is a symbol of the friendly and warm relations that exist between our countries.

As you know, this year India and Russia are marking 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. In our relations, we speak the same language in both culture and defence. Despite the rapidly changing global situation, over these 70 years the Indian-Russian relationship has remained viable and strong. Our relationship is based on mutual appreciation, confidence and trust in each other. This is a sound foundation. It is the basis of our relationship, and we are thus developing our cooperation in various areas.

As you know, President Putin and I have had in-depth talks on all aspects of our cooperation. It is very important to accelerate our cooperation to ensure a brighter future for us. Today, we made some very important decisions; we adopted the St Petersburg Declaration. This declaration should pave the way for economic and political strength. This declaration will also serve as a foundation of international stability. Today, we all know that the world is interconnected and we all depend on each other. I think that increasing economic cooperation is an important incentive for us. We should consider ways of accelerating growth and developing our economic ties. This is the goal that President Putin and I have set.

Within the framework of the St Petersburg Forum, you have invited India to attend as a guest and you invited me to speak at a plenary session, which symbolises our close economic ties. I am sure that our relations will become even closer and stronger as a result of this activity. This will foster bilateral ties and by 2025, we will be able to achieve an investment level of $30 billion. This is the target that we have set.

One of the most important goals is to consolidate economic cooperation (energy, oil and gas, the nuclear sphere, Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant). We reviewed our progress and reached an agreement on these units, and as a result of these agreements, we will move to a new stage of cooperation in nuclear power.

India and Russia will not only derive mutual benefit but we will also continue our cooperation with other countries. Even our trade and commercial ties in the private sector greatly contribute to our relations. I invite representatives of the private sector in both countries to become involved and play an active role in these relations because we need both material cooperation and cooperation at the institutional level. This includes cooperation as part of the North-South international transport corridor. This is an area where we can maintain cooperation and give a new impetus to our relations.

We are in talks on a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union. Technological and industrial cooperation is also an important component of our economic cooperation. It will make a significant contribution to our society and to our economy.

We have joint science and technology programmes that we are working on. We will also do our utmost to support our young entrepreneurs. This will enable our younger generation to take advantage of the innovation economy. I hope that as a result, people who are currently looking for employment will be given new jobs. This year our countries are holding the first meeting of the bilateral science and technology commission. I am sure that this will take our scientific and technological cooperation to a qualitatively new level.

Military cooperation between India and Russia is strong. Whatever the format of global relations, India and Russia have always maintained cooperation in the sphere of security. We have always respected each other's interests. We have held a military industry conference in India, which will play a major role in ensuring global security.

We have launched the joint manufacturing of the Ka-226 helicopter in India. We also work together to produce frigates. Overall, our military cooperation is moving to a new level and has been given a boost. We are also conducting the joint military exercise, Indra-2017.

Friends, relations between our peoples are a major part of the friendly relationship between our countries. Russian culture has always been popular in India, while Indian culture, including yoga and Ayurveda, enjoy great interest in Russia. We are proud of this, and I am convinced that International Yoga Day, which is marked on June 21, will be marked on a grand scale in Russia this year, just as every year before.

Friends, we had a good opportunity to discuss international issues with President Putin. We have reached agreement on terrorism and the protection of our strategic interests, as well as on other challenges. India and Russia will always support each other.

India is grateful for Russia's support in the fight against terrorism. India and Russia share views on Afghanistan and the Asia-Pacific region. We express the same positions within the G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Our countries will work to find a new format for international cooperation.

Friends, President Putin has always supported India, and I am grateful to him for this support and guidance. Our relations are a fruit tree that has received nourishment from great people, such as Ambassador Alexander Kadakin. With his death, we have lost a friend of India. To honour his memory, we have decided to name a street in New Delhi after him.

Your Excellency, our relations have been tested by time, and they have benefited the world as a whole. India and Russia have always supported each other, and our relations have always been a pillar of strength. I hope that our cooperation in the future will bring stability and balance to the world.

We had very fruitful talks today, and we have adopted decisions that will light our path into the future. I would like to once again express my gratitude to you and to the people of St Petersburg.

Thank you very much.

See also

Meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi June 1, 2017
Meeting with Russian and Indian business community representatives June 1, 2017
A package of agreements signed following Russian-Indian talks June 1, 2017

Russia Can Bridge Differences Between India and China (Россия может преодолеть разногласия между Индией и Китаем) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India_China, SPIEF
Author: Alex Gorka

This year, Russia and India mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited St. Petersburg to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 1 and take part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on June 2. The two leaders signed the St. Petersburg declaration. This was the fifth Putin-Modi meeting in the recent three years since the PM took office. The global order is going through deep transformation. There are several world leaders who define the shaping of the new world. No doubt, Putin, and Modi are among them, as well as Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Narendra Modi, 67, has greatly intensified efforts to make his country stronger, more independent and more united. India, like China, is a world economic leader with a very sophisticated cultural and political structure. The country is unique and different from others in many respects. It enjoys a wealth of historical experience, often incomprehensible to those who belong to the West. China enjoys over 3,000 years of uninterrupted statehood. It has its own rich and very specific traditions of state governance. India and China exert great influence on global trends.

It's a well-known fact that Russia (the Soviet Union) and India have always enjoyed a very close relationship with cooperation thriving in all spheres, including military ties. It's also a known fact that many things bedevil the India-China bilateral relations, despite the fact that the two civilizations coexisted and had warm relationship for thousands of years, regardless of which dynasty or empire had the greatest amount of power in either country. It was India where Buddhism came to China from.

The two neighbors fought a short border war in 1962 and since then a sense of mistrust has consistently dogged their ties. In 1998, then Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes designated China as India's "potential enemy No 1" before the country launched the second round of nuclear tests. Unlike Russia, China has so far not supported India's pitch for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. While Russia has grown increasingly close with China, India still distrusts China due to an unresolved border dispute and rivalry over influence in Asia.

India is concerned over the prospect to be surrounded by China. The Chinese influence on Sri Lanka does not make New Delhi happy and the China-Pakistan ties are a special concern, as well as China's growing military presence at the strategic Gwadar port in southwest Pakistan and military logistics base in Djibouti in the Indian Ocean.

Gwadar is a deep-sea port next to the Strait of Hormuz, the key oil route in and out of the Persian Gulf, built with Chinese funding and operated by mainland firms. The port connects the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Pakistan-held Kashmir with China's Xinjiang. The expansion is planned to protect China's maritime lifelines. Beijing will depend on this route in case the U.S. uses its naval power to block the Strait of Malacca – the route Chinese economy heavily relies on.

But India views China's presence in Gwadar as confirmation of China's plans to encircle it. The fact that the projects envision using the territory in Kashmir's disputed areas that India considers its national territory greatly complicates things. India objects to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Narendra Modi government's boycotted the BRI Forum in May.

The idea of Russia, China and India joining together in an alliance started to float in late 1990s. Yevgeni Primakov, then Russian Foreign Minister, drafted the concept of the strategic triangle as a counterbalance to the influence of the West. He argued that a Russia-India-China (RIC) troika in a multipolar world would allow some protection for free-minded nations not allied with the West. It led to the creation of BRICS to unite the same countries and Brazil but this group mainly focused on global, not regional problems.

The US concept of the Greater Middle East from Afghanistan to Maghreb and the way Washington handled the problem of Iran's nuclear program ran counter to Russian, Chinese and Indian interests to be protected by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization created in the 1990s to stabilize the situation in Central Asia. The group's membership and influence are growing to encompass more geographic areas. The three countries already cooperate on Afghanistan. Under Xi Jinping China has shown considerable interest in forging an Asian order that would exclude the United States. By bringing India into this order, Beijing can make this goal closer.

Russia has a good understanding of the situation. It has no magic wand to wave and dissipate the existing mistrust and fears but it can mitigate tensions. This is a pivotal goal of its foreign policy. That's why Moscow pushes ahead the process of India joining the SCO as a full-fledged member so that it could play the role of moderator and mitigate the contradictions between India and China. It's important to note that New Delhi and Beijing refused to condemn the Crimean reunification with Russia in 2014 and as BRICS members they came out in support of Russia's participation in the following G20 summit in Australia that took place the same year.

Moscow has no reason to take sides; it wants close partnership relations with both. It can do it, because the existing differences are not insurmountable. India and China are not divided by geopolitical contradictions of fundamental nature, to the contrary, both states strive for a new world order. Russia is unique being a Eurasian power trusted by China and India; it can make a significant contribution to bringing them together.

Moscow strives for a common Eurasian economic space and it's essential that India and China patch up their differences. According to Akhilesh Pillalamarri, an international relations analyst, editor, and writer, the relationship between Russia and India is the closest thing to an «all-weather» relationship. He notes that «If any country can bridge relations between China and India, it is likely to be Russia».
India-Russia: Privileged Strategic Partnership? (Индия-Россия: привилегированное стратегическое партнерство?) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, expert_opinion
Author: Nandan Unnikrishnan, C. Raja Mohan

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi arrived in St. Petersburg on June 1 to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Leaders of the two countries will discuss steps to build up mutual trade, expand cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

According to С. Raja Mohan, Director of Carnegie India, the challenge for the two leaders is to navigate a period of extraordinary turbulence in great power relations and ensure that mutual confidence and trust developed between the two countries over the last many decades is not shattered by tactical moves by either side in other directions.

"Today, the tensions between Washington and Moscow and the deepening embrace between China and Russia are of concern to India. Delhi believes that President Putin values the partnership with India and will not let downgrade the partnership. Moscow should know that PM Modi sees India as an independent actor on the world stage and will not let his outreach to America hurt the Russian interests in Asia and the Indian Ocean, "said C. Raja Mohan in an interview with

It is hardly possible to select a priority sphere in Russian-Indian cooperation, be it military or economic, said Valdai Club expert Nandan Unnikrishnan, Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

"Military production is also part of the economy. For two countries that have a "privileged, strategic partnership" all aspects of their relationship should be important – political, strategic, economic, and cultural" said Indian expert in interview with

Relations between Russia, China and Pakistan in the context of Russian-Indian partnership

According to Nandan Unnikrishnan, no country should object to another country's collaboration with a third country if it does not affect its strategic interests. "If Russian military sales to Pakistan or China do not upset the existing balance of power of these countries with India then India should not object. Similarly, if India is seeking a closer military relationship with the United States it should not be a matter of concern to Russia as long as Russia' strategic balance vis-à-vis the US is not upset", the expert said.

However, it must be noted that while Russia and the US do not have currently any direct territorial dispute, that is not the case with China and Pakistan vis-à-vis India. "India has a direct long standing dispute with these two countries, which effectively makes them India's enemies. Therefore, it is natural that Russia's collaboration with them is a matter of intense concern for India", the expert noted.

"Russia clearly has a pragmatic leadership which would not want to jeopardise a multi-billion dollar relationship with India for a few million dollars' deals with Pakistan. As for China, it is natural for Russia to want to sell weapons, because that window may close after another couple of years given China's advances in developing its own technologies. But, that does not mean that India has to like it", the expert said.

Cooperation in the Arctic

Nandan Unnikrishnan recalled, that president Vladimir Putin in an article to Indian media wrote that "the possibilities for the participation of Indian companies in joint hydrocarbons exploration and production projects in the Russian Arctic shelf are currently under consideration".

"India certainly is exploring the possibilities of cooperation with Russia in the Arctic region. Currently, the focus is primarily on two areas – natural resources and transport connections. India is also an observer in the Arctic Council and would be interested in being actively involved in the work of this organization", the expert said.

According to C. Raja Mohan, over the last decade and more India has closely followed the developments in the Arctic region amidst the new opportunities and challenges emerging for the international community. There is special concern about the melting of the Arctic ice cap and its environmental, economic and strategic consequences. "Russia is of course a major littoral county of the Arctic and is a natural partner for India. During their last meeting at the end of 2016, Prime Minister Modi and President Putin had discussed the prospect for participation of the Indian companies in the development of the energy resources of the Arctic shelf. The two leaders should take that discussion forward for a more comprehensive and strategic collaboration in the Arctic",the expert said.

Cooperation in the fight against terrorism

India and Russia have very similar and long-standing understanding of terrorism and how it should be tackled. But, recently some tactical differences appear in the context of Afghanistan. "However, the two countries have a history of cooperating on Afghanistan and should be able to overcome their differences. Another important aspect to keep in mind is that we are going through a period of great uncertainty in international affairs. So, the appearance of differences is not surprising. What is important is to have frank discussions about these differences to narrow them down and not let them undermine the overall partnership," Nandan Unnikrishnan concluded.
Vladimir Putin's article, Russia and India: 70 years together, has been published (Опубликована статья Владимира Путина «Россия и Индия: 70 лет вместе») / Russia, May, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India

The article in The Times of India was published to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with India.

This year, we are celebrating the anniversary of a truly historic event. Seventy years ago – on April 13, 1947 – the governments of the USSR and India announced their decision to establish official missions in Delhi and Moscow. This step on our part logically followed up on our course for assisting India on its way to national liberation and contributed to strengthening its independence.

In the decades that have followed, our bilateral partnership has further intensified and strengthened, and has never been subject to expediency. Equal and mutually beneficial relations of the two States have steadily developed. This is quite natural. Our peoples have always had mutual sympathy and respect for each other's spiritual values and culture.

Today, we can take pride in what we have achieved. With Russia's technical and financial assistance, the pioneers of Indian industrialization came into existence: metallurgical complexes in Bhilai, Visakhapatnam and Bokaro, the mining equipment plant in Durgapur, the thermal power station in Neyveli, the electromechanical enterprise in Korba, antibiotics plants in Rishikesh and the pharmaceutical plant in Hyderabad.

Soviet and, later on, Russian scientists and academics participated in the establishment of research and education centers in India. These include the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, research institutes of petroleum industry in Dehradun and Ahmedabad.

We are proud our specialists helped develop India's space program. Thanks to this fruitful bilateral cooperation, in 1975 India's first satellite, Aryabhata, was launched, and Indian citizen Rakesh Sharma travelled into space in 1984 as a crew member of Soyuz T-11.

In August 1971, our countries signed the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation, which set forth the fundamental principles of bilateral relations, such as respect for the sovereignty and each other's interests, good‑neighborliness, and peaceful coexistence. In 1993, the Russian Federation and the Republic of India confirmed the inviolability of these basic principles in the new Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation. The Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed in 2000 provides for close coordination of approaches to ensuring international peace and security and resolving pressing global and regional issues. Annual summits have become an established practice in the Indian-Russian bilateral relations allowing us to discuss in a timely manner the efforts taken to accomplish our objectives and set long-term goals. In early June, we will have another summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in St. Petersburg. He is expected to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, in which India will for the first time participate as a partner country.

The legal framework comprising more than 250 documents is being updated on a regular basis. Effective work is carried out within intergovernmental commissions on cooperation in trade and economy, science and technology, as well as culture and military-technical field. Ministries of foreign affairs, security council offices and line ministries maintain continuous dialogue. The interparliamentary and interregional ties, as well as business and humanitarian contacts are actively developing. Military cooperation is also being enhanced: joint land and naval exercises are conducted regularly.

Cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy is one of the fundamental components of the relationship between India and Russia. The construction of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant with our assistance is a flagship project in this field. In 2013, the first nuclear power unit was put into operation. In October 2016, the second unit was transferred to the Indian side, and construction of the third and fourth power units began. All of this contributes to the implementation of the plans to develop nuclear energy in India involving the construction of at least 12 power units in its territory by 2020. These goals are stipulated in a joint document – the Strategic Vision for Strengthening India-Russia Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. We intend to further share best practices in this important industry with India and contribute to enhancing its energy security.

Collaboration in the traditional energy sector is successfully developing. The purchase of a block of shares in the Russian company "Vankorneft" made by the Indian consortium of companies has become the biggest bilateral deal in the oil industry. The possibilities for the participation of Indian companies in joint hydrocarbons exploration and production projects in the Russian Arctic shelf are currently under consideration. There are also good prospects for cooperation in the solar energy filed, modernization of the existing power plants and construction of new ones in the territory of India.

Large-scale projects are carried out in mechanical engineering, chemical and mining industries, aircraft construction, pharmaceutics and medicine.

One of the priorities is to boost the trade turnover and improve its structure, as well as stimulate economic activity of our business communities. I am referring to enhancing industrial cooperation and increasing supplies of high-tech products, creating a better business and investment environment, and using systems of payments in national currencies.

The decision to start negotiations on a free trade area agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and India adopted in December 2016 is of particular importance. The possibilities of creating the International North‑South Transport Corridor are being explored. All these factors should promote the development of our bilateral and regional cooperation.

To encourage reciprocal capital inflow, a working group on priority investment projects was established under the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation. 19 most promising projects have already been selected. Russia is committed to long-term participation in the "Make in India" program initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Our countries cooperate intensively in the production of multipurpose weapons and military equipment. Co-production of a unique supersonic cruise missile "BrahMos" is our special pride. Since 1960, the overall value of contracts within the framework of military and technical cooperation has amounted to over USD 65 billion, while the portfolio of orders in 2012–2016 exceeded USD 46 billion.

India and Russia are equal partners in international affairs. Our countries support the establishment of a multipolar democratic system of international relations based on strict compliance with the principles of law and resting upon the UN central role. We are willing to further jointly counter challenges and threats of the 21st century, promote the unifying agenda and contribute to maintaining global and regional security.

We effectively interact within BRICS – an association that thanks to our collective efforts is increasing its weight and influence. This June, India will become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It will considerably enhance the potential of the SCO. India and Russia also work together within the G20 and other international formats.

I would also like to note that our countries closely coordinate positions on such complex issues as settling the situation in Syria and ensuring stability in the Middle East and North Africa region. They significantly contribute to the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

I am convinced that the enormous potential of cooperation between the two great powers will be further explored for the benefit of the peoples of India and Russia and the international community in general. We have everything necessary to achieve this – political will of the sides, economic viability and shared global priorities. All this is based on the glorious history of the Indian‑Russian friendship.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to convey the kindest regards to all the citizens of friendly India.
Spotlight: Putin says to advance Russia-China cooperation under Belt & Road Initiative (В центре внимания: Путин говорит, что продвинет российско-китайское сотрудничество в рамках ОПОП) / China, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_China, OBOR

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday his country is ready to expand cooperation with China under its Belt and Road Initiative.

Putin made the remarks when answering questions raised by Zhang Sutang, vice president of Xinhua News Agency, during a meeting with heads of the world's major news agencies on the sideline of the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

Speaking to Zhang, Putin reiterated his readiness to unite efforts within the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

"Our position is precisely this. It is not only mine but also of the leaders of other EAEU countries. We are interested in developing relations with China, one of the world's largest economies with colossal potential," said Putin.

The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013 consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

The EAEU comprises Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, with an aim to encourage regional economic integration through the free movement of goods, services and people within the union.

In the context of the pairing of the Belt and Road Initiative and the EAEU, infrastructure development cooperation is "priceless" in general, said the Russian president.

According to him, such cooperation includes the construction of road, railway, air and maritime transport facilities linking east and west, south and north.

"It truly has a global significance. Therefore, Russia and China will work together in this area," the president added.

In his view, the situation in Russia-China border regions is developing positively: bridges under construction, cross-border trade on the increase, and direct contacts between local governments in full swing.

Meanwhile, people from both countries are visiting each other, conducting all kinds of humanitarian activities and holding various economic forums.

Putin said the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between Russia and China is developing "very positively" and "uniquely."

"We are always seeking common approaches to the most complicated problems and often come forward with a unified position," he said.

Putin also proposed to deepen bilateral cooperation within the frameworks of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS mechanism.

According to him, the SCO has become a major international organization and plays a big role in regional and global affairs.

The BRICS mechanism, which unites countries with similar economic structure, now serves as a very important platform for coordinating positions, Putin added.

"We have common problems. It encourages us to look for universal ways to solve them together and complement each other during this process," he said.

Founded in 1997, the SPIEF is an international platform to discuss key economic issues facing Russia, other developing countries and the world at large.
Russia, India plan for Kudankulam 5 and 6 (Россия и Индия планируют создание Куданкулам 5 и 6) / UK, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, nuclear_power, expert_opinion

Russia and India have signed a framework agreement enabling construction of the 'third stage' of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, including an intergovernmental credit protocol for implementation of the project. The documents were signed yesterday at the 18th Annual Russian-Indian Summit, held alongside the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, by Valery Limarenko, president ASE Group, and Sri Sharma, chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

The agreement, which was signed in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, covers construction of units 5 and 6 according to Russian nuclear reactor design. Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom said the agreement and protocol are required to start construction of the units, specifying as they do the "obligations of the two sides, costs and other important conditions of their cooperation".

According to a Rosatom statement, Limarenko said: "Extremely important documents have been signed that have been the focus of intensive joint work in recent months." He added: "All the formalities have been carried out now in order to finally launch the project to construct two new power units at Kudankulam using Russian technologies." The project has now entered the "practical phase", he added.

Kudankulam, in Tamil Nadu, is home to two VVER-1000s supplied by the ASE Group, which is Rosatom's engineering subsidiary and includes Atomstroyexport and Atomenergoproekt.

Kudankulam 1 entered commercial operation in December 2014, while in April this year NPCIL signed an agreement provisionally accepting Kudankulam unit 2 from its Russian suppliers and thus marking the unit's entry into commercial operation. Two further VVER-1000 units - Kudankulam 3 and 4 - are to be built at the site in the second construction phase. Pouring of first concrete for units 3 and 4 is planned for the end of June, Rosatom said yesterday.

Cooperation between India and Russia to build the Kudankulam plant has its origins in an inter-governmental agreement signed in 1988 by the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachov. First concrete for unit 1 was poured in March 2002, with that for unit 2 following four months later. The units were originally scheduled to begin commercial operation in December 2007 and December 2008 respectively.

Although unit 1 was completed in March 2011, its commissioning was delayed due to protests and legal action following the accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant the same month. Plant owner Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited announced in July 2013 that the unit had achieved first criticality. It was connected to the grid in October that year. Unit 2 - India's 22nd nuclear power reactor - achieved first criticality in July last year.
Narendra Modi in Russia: New Kudankulam deal likely to boost flagging relations, India's nuclear aspirations (Нарендра Моди в России: новая сделка по Куданкуламе, скорее всего, усилит фальшивые отношения Индии) / India, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, nuclear_power, expert_opinion

On 1 June, India and Russia concluded an agreement that would begin work on the fifth and sixth reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. The deal was finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to St Petersburg for the 18th annual bilateral summit between the two nations and ironed out the technicalities to a 1988 memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Rajiv Gandhi for the development of nuclear energy in southern Tamil Nadu. Completion of this project would make Kudankulam India's largest nuclear park, responsible for 40 percent of India's total nuclear energy capacity.

Although the original MoU envisioned a total of eight reactors at the Indian site, a subsequent negotiation in 2008 reduced that number to six. No size of the reactor had been mentioned in the agreement but was mutually understood to be the 1,000 megawatt VVER-1000. In 2014, Russia offered its latest generation 3+ VVER-1200 for future Kudankulam installations but this suggestion was nixed by India as there were no working models of the design; the first VVER-1200 reactor became commercial just three months ago at Novovoronezh.

The deal for the last two reactors at Kudankulam comes at an interesting time in international nuclear politics. Rosatom has been strongly pushing nuclear exports over the past five years and secured agreements in several countries such as Hungary, Bolivia, Argentina, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Bulgaria, Finland, and others. As the only company in the nuclear sector that is capable of offering the full spectrum of services from mining to reprocessing, Rosatom has a powerful advantage over its competitors in new markets. However, nuclear sales come with financing agreements and it has been questioned if the Russian state-owned company can indeed afford to float such lines of credit. In fact, Rosatom had offered to partner with India in fulfilling its agreements for probably similar concerns. This deal confirms valuable additional business for the Russian nuclear giant when it needs it most, especially considering the short period of 10 years for the $4.2 billion loan Russia has extended India for Units V and VI.

The finalisation of Kudankulam V and VI also comes on the heels of India's decision to proceed with 10 indigenous 700 megawatt reactors if foreign suppliers cannot be relied upon to assist with India's nuclear aspirations. If Delhi does succeed in streamlining the indigenous route, a valuable customer with enormous needs would be lost to the international market. Despite its frustrating vacillations, India still remains one of the hopes of a nuclear renaissance.

It is also hoped in some quarters that indigenous nuclear development will give India additional leverage to force its way into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The emergence of a parallel market in which Delhi can set its own rules while broadly following international non-proliferation and safety protocols is a threat to the Western-led international nuclear regime. Although this is no more than a fantasy, it is hoped that taking even small steps towards such reliance will soften the stand of the nuclear cabal. Given the new mantra of Make In India and Modi's emphasis on developing Indian industry, it is not inconceivable that a few benefits are also seen in domestic Indian nuclear industry.

There is no clear information yet as to what the cost of Kudankulam V and VI will be. The first two units were built for ₹17,270 crores but the price for the third and fourth units skyrocketed to ₹39,747 crores. The agreement for the fifth and sixth units commits Russia to a loan of approximately ₹27,000 crores to cover the construction costs of the reactors but reports make no mention of what the total cost is likely to be. If the agreement on Kudankulam III and IV — in which India secured a $3.4 billion loan towards construction costs — is any indicator, the last two VVER units at the site are likely to cost around ₹51,000 crores.

As usual, India's Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) will construct the plant with guidance from Russia's Atomstroyexport. No information has been released on the timeframe for Kudankulam V and VI to begin commercial operation, or for that matter, the earlier two units.

The agreement for the fifth and sixth units follows quickly on the heels of the agreement for Kudankulam III and IV. The infusion of two more foreign reactors will not salvage India's moribund nuclear energy programme but it comes at a time when more and more people are asking questions about India's relations with Russia. While Delhi is perceived to have drifted towards the United States, Moscow flirts with Islamabad to India's chagrin. Despite all the diplomatic packing peanuts, defence (technology) agreements have formed the bedrock of India-Russia relations since the time of Joseph Stalin, and the new Kudankulam reactors will give flagging relations a shot in the arm. As long as cooperation in the strategic realm remains strong, both Moscow and New Delhi will be able to weather any storms since their relations are not based on a sense of community or shared international vision.

It also seems clear now that Russia will be exempted, de facto, from India's asinine nuclear liability regime. The argument for the exemption is that laws cannot be applied retroactively — though such common sense has not always prevailed in India — and the Kudankulam agreement and the subsequent renegotiation were both concluded before the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA). As analysts have pointed out, by reopening the Kudankulam deal to accommodate the CLNDA would provoke Russia into demanding renegotiation of reprocessing rights, the implementation of full scope safeguards, and showing a greater restraint in nuclear cooperation or technology transfer. Russia has already substantially raised the price of its reactors to allow for India's convoluted workaround of its liability law.

Russia remains the only country that has committed to developing nuclear power plants in India despite the CLNDA albeit no new agreement has been concluded and the reactors presently under construction are still grandfathered into the 1988 accord. India's early optimism in face of international concern for its liability law now seems hollow and self-deceptive. A good experience with Kudankulam is therefore important to retain India's only foreign nuclear vendor.
Meeting with Russian and Indian business community representatives (Встреча с представителями деловых кругов России и Индии) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, SPIEF

Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi met with Russian and Indian business community representatives.

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.


PM addresses 18th Annual India-Russia Summit (Премьер-министр выступил на 18-й ежегодной встрече Индии и России) / India, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, official_visit

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today met Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 18th Annual India Russia Summit at St. Petersburg.

Addressing the media at the end of the Summit, President Prime Minister Modi recalled his first visit to St. Petersburg as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001. He said ties between India and Russia span the spectrum from Culture to Defence (Sanskriti se Suraksha).

The Prime Minister said 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries have been marked by a high degree of convergence on various bilateral and global matters.

The Prime Minister described the St. Petersburg Declaration, issued today, as a benchmark of stability in a turbulent, interdependent and interconnected world. He said India's participation as a guest country in SPIEF and his address there tomorrow would further deepen economic cooperation between the two nations.

The Prime Minister described energy cooperation as one of the cornerstones of the relationship between India and Russia, and noted that this cooperation in the nuclear, hydrocarbon, and renewable energy sectors has been considerably deepened by the discussion and decisions taken today. In this context he mentioned the agreement of Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

The Prime Minister emphasized the role of the private sector in enhancing trade and commerical ties between the two countries, adding that India and Russia are close to achieving the target of 30 billion US dollars worth of investment by 2025.

Speaking on the theme of connectivity, the Prime Minister mentioned cooperation between the two countries in the International North South Transport Corridor. Among other initiatives, the Prime Minister mentioned the "bridge to innovation" to promote startups and entrepreneurship, and the forthcoming commencement of discussions on a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.

Underlining the time-tested strategic dimension of the India Russia relationship, the Prime Minister mentioned the forthcoming first Tri-services exercise - INDRA 2017, between the two countries. Defence production Joint Ventures for the production of Kamov 226 helicopters and frigates were also mentioned. The Prime Minister welcomed Russia's unconditional support to India on the issue of cross border terrorism.

On the cultural side, the Prime Minister said the deep awareness of Russian culture in India, and of Yoga and Ayurveda in Russia, was a matter of deep satisfaction.

The Prime Minister welcomed and applauded President Putin's leadership in the growth of India-Russia relations.

He announced that a road in Delhi has been renamed after Ambassador Alexander Kadakin, whom he described as a friend of India, who passed away recently.

Earlier, addressing CEOs of both countries, the Prime Minister invited Russian companies to invest in key sectors of the Indian economy, and particularly mentioned opportunities in the strategic sector.

India and Russia signed five agreements today in sectors covering nuclear energy, railways, gems and jewellery, traditional knowledge and cultural exchanges.

Earlier today, the Prime Minister paid homage to the heroic defenders and brave soldiers of the Battle of Leningrad, at the Piskarovskoye Cemetery.
Saint Petersburg Declaration by the Russian Federation and the Republic of India: A vision for the 21st century (Санкт-Петербургская декларация Российской Федерации и Республики Индия: видение XXI века) / India, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, SPIEF, SCO, declaration, energy, nuclear_power, trade, rating_agency, infrastructure, diamond_industry, education, science, terrorism

We, the leaders of India and Russia, in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, note that the Indian-Russian special and privileged strategic partnership is a unique relationship of mutual trust between two great powers. Our relationship covers all areas of cooperation, including in the spheres of political relations, security, trade and economy, military and technical field, energy, scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges, and foreign policy, and helps promote national interests of both countries, and contributes to the establishment of a more peaceful and just world order.

Our bilateral relations are based on deep mutual understanding and respect, similar priorities in economic and social development, as well as in foreign policy. We favor the same approaches to ensuring peace and security and shaping a global architecture that reflects cultural and civilizational diversity and at the same time strengthens unity of humankind. India-Russia relations have stood the test of time and have been immune to external influences.

Russia unwaveringly supported India in its struggle for independence and helped it to achieve self-sufficiency. In August 1971, our countries signed the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation, which outlined fundamental principles of mutual relations such as respect for each other's sovereignty and interests, good neighborliness and peaceful co-existence. Two decades later, in January 1993, India and Russia reaffirmed the inviolability of those provisions in the new Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.The Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation of October 3, 2000, took the bilateral relations to a new level characterized by coordinated approaches towards ensuring international peace and security, addressing major global and regional issues, as well as close cooperation in economic, cultural, educational and other areas. This partnership was further elevated to the level of a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership on 21 December 2010.

Advancing the comprehensive development of the Indian-Russian relations is an absolute priority of the foreign policy of both States. We will continue to widen our scope of cooperation by launching large-scale initiatives in different spheres and enhance and enrich our bilateral agenda so as to make it more result-oriented.

The economies of India and Russia complement each other in the energy sector. We will strive to build an "Energy Bridge" between our States and expand bilateral relations in all areas of energy cooperation, including nuclear, hydrocarbon, hydel and renewable energy sources and in improving energy efficiency.

India and Russia note that wider use of natural gas, an economically efficient and environmentally friendly fuel, which has become an integral part of the global energy market, is highly significant for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will assist in fulfilling the provisions of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as achieving sustainable economic growth.Cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy has emerged as one of the hallmarks of the strategic partnership between the two countries, contributing to India's energy security and energizing broader scientific and technological cooperation. With concerted efforts on both sides, there has been a series of steady and demonstrable achievements in our civil nuclear partnership, including advancing nuclear power projects at the Kudankulam site and transforming it into one of India's largest energy hubs. We welcome the conclusion of the General Framework Agreement and Credit Protocol for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. We will work towards the implementation of the Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy signed between the two countries on December 11, 2014. The future of Indian-Russian cooperation holds great promise across a wide spectrum covering nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear science and technology.

The growing partnership in the nuclear power sector between India and Russia has opened opportunities for developing advanced nuclear manufacturing capabilities in India in line with Government of India's "Make in India" initiative. India and Russia commit themselves to earnestly implement the "Programme of Action for Localization in India" signed on 24 December 2015, and to encourage their nuclear industries to engage closely and foster concrete collaborations.

We are interested in launching joint projects on exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic shelf of the Russian Federation.

We will develop joint strategies to harness the potential for mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of deep sea exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources, polymetallic nodules, and other marine resources utilizing strengths in the field of maritime research and training to develop mutually beneficial cooperation.

We welcome cooperation among energy companies of both States in modernizing the existing power stations and building new ones in the territory of India. We will endeavour to develop joint projects in each other's countries through sharing of technologies, experience of working in different terrains and climatic conditions, and use of energy efficient technologies for creation and propagation of cleaner, climate friendly and affordable energy resources.

Our major economic objectives include expanding trade and investment and diversification of trade in goods and services, in particular increasing the share of high-technology products in bilateral trade, fostering industrial cooperation, improving the environment for entrepreneurship and investments and developing cooperation in banking and financial matters between the two countries. As the next stage of our strategic partnership, we will extend our bilateral technical, economic and scientific cooperation to third countries by undertaking joint development projects in mutually agreed sectors.

We will coordinate our efforts to promote settlements of Indian-Russian trade in national currencies to reduce dependence of our bilateral trade on other currencies. We will jointly encourage our business communities to use the existing workable schemes and mechanisms for settlements in national currencies elaborated by the Reserve Bank of India and the Bank of Russia.

We will coordinate our positions in order to develop a credit rating industry that is transparent for the market participants and independent from political conjuncture. In this sense we support work aimed at exploring the opportunities of harmonization of our legislation in the area of credit ratings, as well as the recognition of ratings of our local credit rating agencies.

We acknowledge the importance of developing economic cooperation at the regional level. We will facilitate an early commencement of negotiations on a free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Republic of India.

We appreciate the compelling logic of regional connectivity for peace, progress and prosperity. We believe that connectivity must be strengthened It should be based on dialogue and consent of all parties concerned with due respect to sovereignty. The Russian and Indian Sides being guided by the principles of transparency, sustainability and responsibility, reiterate their commitment to build effective infrastructure for the International North South Transport Corridor and implementation of the Green Corridor.

We take note of the fact that both States are committed to building knowledge based economies, on the basis of latest scientific advances and innovation. We will broaden cooperation in designing, developing, manufacturing and bringing to foreign markets high-technology products and strengthen scientific collaboration in areas such as space technology, aviation, new materials, agriculture, information and communication technologies, medicine, pharmaceuticals, robotics, nanotechnology, supercomputing technologies, artificial intelligence and material sciences. We welcome the establishment of the High Level Committee on Cooperation in High Technologies between the two countries.

We will work together to step up joint efforts aimed at modernizing infrastructure, explore ways to jointly respond to urbanization challenges, address issues related to ensuring food security, preserving water and forest resources, and share experience in carrying out economic reforms and national programs for the development of small and medium enterprises and in skill development.

We will work together to further develop the potential for cooperation in the diamond industry with an objective to take full advantage of existing strengths and resources of both our countries in this area. We will also intensify our joint efforts to counter undisclosed synthetic stones entering diamond market and to support the development of generic marketing programmes for diamonds.

Recognizing the strength of Russia in shipbuilding, river navigation and desalination technologies, we will work together to develop joint projects through transfer of technology and experience sharing for developing inland waterways, river embankments, ports and cargo containers towards effective utilization of extensive river systems in India.

We will work together in development of high speed railways, dedicated freight corridors, and application of newer technologies for efficient rail transport through joint development and sharing of technologies, and training of personnel to benefit from each other's competences in the railroad sector.

We will work together to improve market access for agriculture and food commodities in each other's country and develop joint strategies through research & development for utilization of existing potential in the agriculture and food processing sector covering an entire spectrum of activities from farming, harvesting, production, processing to marketing strategies.We will work together to explore joint projects for effective use of natural resources in each other's country through application of existing technologies and development and sharing of newer technologies for search in the field of mining & metallurgy for affordable and climate friendly utilization of natural resources.

We note that India will become the third largest aviation market by 2020 and in this connection, recognize that the Regional Connectivity Scheme of the Government of India provides an opportunity for strengthening cooperation in joint production and setting up of joint ventures in India in the field of aviation manufacturing to serve the demand created and for export to third countries.

Our bilateral defense cooperation is built on strong mutual trust. Russia exports its modern military technologies to India. We will upgrade and intensify this cooperation, through joint manufacture, co-production and co-development of military hardware and military spares, with increasing reliance on the adoption and sharing of future technologies, in compliance with the obligations of the sides under the existing agreements on military-technical cooperation.

We will work towards a qualitatively higher level of military-to-military cooperation. We will continue holding regular joint land and sea military exercises, and training in each others' military institutions. This year will see the first ever Tri-services exercise INDRA–2017.

We see ample opportunities for bilateral cooperation in space research, with a view to using relevant technologies for the benefit of society.

We will continue joint work to prevent and respond to natural disasters.

We intend to enhance and actively promote greater cooperation between our regions and states, with a particular emphasis on the Far East region of Russia.

India and Russia regard the establishment of the multi-polar global order in international relations as a reflection of natural and inevitable process of evolution of interstate relations in the 21st century. In this regard, we will enhance collaboration to democratize the system of international relations based on the principles of the rule of law and the central role of the United Nations coordination of world politics. We believe that there is a need to reform the United Nations and in particular, the United Nations Security Council to make it more representative of contemporary realities and to respond more effectively to emerging challenges and threats. Russia reaffirms its strong support to India's candidature for a permanent seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council. We will support the advancement of a positive unifying global agenda, effectively engage in international efforts to strengthen peace and ensure global and regional stability and security, confront challenges and threats, and actively promote just and coordinated approaches to crisis resolution.

We will work to foster the democratization and reform of global political, economic, financial and social institutions, for them to better accommodate the interests of all members of the international community. We oppose any recourse to unilateralism or lack of respect to sovereignty, ignoring the core concerns and legitimate interests of the countries. In particular, we do not accept the unilateral use of political and economic sanctions as a means of exerting pressure.

We intend to further build up fruitful cooperation within BRICS, which, as a result of our joint efforts, enhances consistently its authoritative and influential role in global affairs.

We will continue to develop cooperation within other multilateral forums and organizations, including the WTO, G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as Russia-India-China cooperation.

India's full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will considerably enhance the Organization's capabilities to ensure peace and stability, achieve economic development and prosperity in Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as improve the Organization's international standing.

We will continue facilitating efforts to build an open, well-balanced and inclusive security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region based on shared principles and taking into account the legitimate interests of all States of the region, including through the development of relevant dialogue in the framework of the East Asia Summit.

We will further coordinate our positions on the challenging issues of restoration of peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa, settlement of the Syrian crisis, achievement of national reconciliation in Afghanistan, including in the agreed framework of the Moscow dialogue, using the laid down principles of national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, while encouraging the countries to lead the change from within.

India and Russia have a shared commitment to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.Russia is convinced that India's participation in multilateral export control regimes will contribute to their enhancement. In this context, Russia welcomes India's applications for the membership in Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement and reiterates its strong support for India's earliest admission to these export control regimes.

We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons. Together, we will continue efforts to combat international terrorism, which poses a great threat to maintenance of peace and security. We are convinced that the unprecedented spread of this threat requires decisive collective response on part of the entire global community, without double standards and selectivity, in accordance with international law and the UN Charter. We urge all countries and entities to work sincerely to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing, and stop cross-border movement of terrorists. We call for early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to strengthen the global counter-terrorism normative and legal framework to combat this scourge.

Sharing common approaches to providing security in the use of information and communication technologies, we intend to keep working together for developing universal rules, standards and principles of responsible behaviour of the States in this context, on the basis of democratization and a model representing multi-stakeholderism with primacy of the State, in global internet governance.

We recognize the necessity to activate bilateral interaction in this sphere on the basis of the Indian-Russian Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Security in the use of Information and Communication Technologies.Taking into account the profound mutual interest, sympathy and respect between the peoples of India and Russia, we will contribute to further developing bilateral contacts in the sphere of culture and sports, including by organizing annual festivals and exchanges. We welcome the organizing of events in different cities in both countries to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Russia in 2017-18.

Bilateral cooperation in the sphere of education offers great opportunities. We will work to strengthen cooperation in the field of education through promoting direct contacts among universities and academic institutions and providing assistance to students from the two countries.

Our Bilateral cooperation in the sphere of Science & Technology offers great opportunities. We are committed to work together to address global challenges like Climate change, Environmental protection, Clean energy, Cyber security, Affordable health care, Marine biology etc through scientific discoveries and to explore priority areas of common interest. We are working together to create networks of knowledge centers, connectivity of minds and scientific corridors to augment innovation led technology development for societal development.

We intend to further foster development of tourism and people-to-people contacts, including by easing the visa regime.

We are confident that India and Russia will continue to remain a role model for harmonious and mutually beneficial partnership and strong friendship between two states. Building on the shared vision of development of bilateral relations, we will succeed in further realizing the immense potential of India-Russia special and privileged strategic partnership for the benefit of our States and international community as a whole.
China ready for more high-level Russia exchanges (Китай готов к обменам с Россией на более высоком уровне) / China, May, 2017
Keywords: Russia_China

Beijing is ready to work with Moscow to prepare for high-level exchanges in the near future, as the two countries have always trusted and supported each other, no matter how the international situation changes, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Wang made the remark while meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday in the Russian capital.

As part of the good relationship between the two emerging markets, bilateral meetings of leaders have been frequent, including Putin's meeting with President Xi Jinping earlier this month during a trip to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

Wang said Putin made an important contribution to the success of the forum.

Putin told Wang he expects that Xi could visit Russia at an early date, and the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination "is worthy of its name".

Beijing and Moscow have kept close contact on global issues. Their senior diplomats have met recently to discuss the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Syrian situation.

Wang said the two countries should also strengthen strategic cooperation on international affairs, firmly safeguard their strategic interests and jointly promote peaceful settlement of international and regional hot spot issues.

Putin said Russia and China should work closely together within multilateral frameworks such as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the G20. He also said the two countries should strengthen international security cooperation, jointly tackle hot spot issues and maintain global strategic stability.

Regarding bilateral cooperation, Wang said both sides should act on the guidance of their respective leaders and push for new outcomes of bilateral cooperation on linking the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union.

Putin said the economic situation in Russia is improving, the departments of both governments should strengthen communication and consultation, and major cooperative projects should be implemented effectively.

Jiang Yi, an expert on Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the reinforced cooperation has laid a foundation for the lasting development of the bilateral partnership.

Progress in major projects will facilitate economic restructuring of both countries and boost their standing on the global stage, he said.

Roundup: People-to-people exchanges between South Africa, China on fast track
(Обзор: обмен от народа к народу между Южной Африкой и Китаем на ускоренном пути) / China, June, 2017
Keywords: China_SA

JOHANNESBURG, June 1 (Xinhua) -- China-South Africa relations are expected to be lifted to new heights with increasing cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two BRICS countries.

Lucas Banda, an international relations expert at the Midrand University, cited the tourism sector as a highlight of the trend.

"Chinese arrivals were up 93 percent in 2016," Banda told Xinhua.

Chinese tourists to South Africa increased by 56 percent during the period from January to October in 2016 compared to a year earlier, showed data from South Africa's tourism research institute.

"The cooperation between China and South Africa is expected to surge this year because of the bilateral agreement," he added, referring to the bilateral high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism launched in April.

While addressing the April conference that launched the mechanism, South Africa's Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa believes the mechanism will serve to cement relations between South Africa and China.

"Arts, culture and heritage grant us an opportunity to learn about each other's world view, belief systems and way of life of others, which is a critical part of creating a better world for all," said the minister.

Timothy Drury, an independent expert on international relations, expects the people-to-people exchange mechanism to help deepen mutual understanding as well as bilateral cooperation in sectors such as science, technology, culture, education, health, sports, and tourism.

In his eyes, the exchange mechanism will also "provide a perfect impetus to boost bilateral trade," and as a new pattern of exchanges featuring both governmental and non-governmental efforts, it is expected to attract organizations at various levels.

"South Africa has recently launched Mandarin training courses in schools to help and bolster the bilateral relationship. Communication is vital in cultural exchanges," Drury added.

South Africa, where there are many fans of Chinese martial arts and Peking opera, is among the few African countries that include Chinese teaching in its national education.

Siphamandla Zondi, a lecturer at the University of Pretoria, calls for more efforts to tap the potential in the development of people-to-people exchanges between South Africa and China.

"There is a potential to push this (people-to-people relations) to a higher level with many initiatives," said Zondi.

For example, he said interactions between the two countries' non-government organizations, community-based organizations, cultural groups, schools and musical groups should improve.

In addition, "there have to be programs and initiatives that bring peoples together. That would create access to different cultures, social lives, places and economic opportunities as they interact and bring solidarity with other people and increase knowledge," he said.

In this regard, Zondi said the high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism established between South Africa and China is helpful.

BRICS Media Forum to be held in Beijing next week (На следующей неделе в Пекине пройдет форум медиа БРИКС) / China, June, 2017
Keywords: Media_Forum

BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhua) -- The BRICS Media Forum, to be held in Beijing from June 7 to 8, will be attended by the leaders of 25 media groups from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The attendees will discuss topics including multimedia innovation for media development, as well as media outlets' duty and social responsibility.

The forum next week aims to improve the high-end dialogue platform for the mainstream media of BRICS countries, as well as advance innovation and promote fairness and justice of international public opinion.

During the forum, there will be a BRICS Media Joint Photo Exhibition to show the development and cooperation achievements of BRICS.

Proposed by Xinhua, the forum is jointly organized by the mainstream media groups of BRICS countries.

China, which took over the BRICS presidency this year, will host the Ninth BRICS Summit in September in Xiamen, Fujian Province.
Meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Встреча с премьер-министром Индии Навендра Моди) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, SPIEF

Vladimir Putin met with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi met with Megyn Kelly, NBC News anchor and moderator of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum plenary session.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, friends,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to Russia, this time to St Petersburg. I am happy that we are meeting in this city. As far as I know, you have not been to St Petersburg before. I hope you will have time to tour the city and its landmarks, including the Hermitage and the collection of oriental manuscripts at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Mr Prime Minister, this year we will mark a significant date, 70 years of our diplomatic relations. There were great many events and many things have changed in that period, but the main thing that has remained unchanged in our bilateral relations is a special, trust-based friendly relationship between our nations.

I am happy to have this opportunity to meet with you to discuss the entire range of our bilateral relations and also international issues.

Regarding our cooperation on the international stage, I would like to single out that next week we will formalise India's accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full member. The process began in 2015 in Ufa, Russia. As you know, Russia has always supported and provided all-round backing to this process. Hence, we will meet again very soon, in a week, in Kazakhstan.

Welcome to St Petersburg and Russia.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated): Your Excellency, thank you for a warm welcome.

I am truly glad to have this opportunity to meet with you in your hometown and to visit your city as a prime minister.

India and Russia enjoy trusted relations that go back in history. Our two countries have always stood side by side on all international issues. Soon, India will become a full member of the SCO thanks to your active support. Let me express my gratitude once again for the backing you provided to India so it would become a full member of the SCO.

We can see that in international relations there may be a decline and there may be progress. We see changes. But based on our history, we see that for a prolonged period, our relations have been stable, with no setbacks. We have been moving forward together step by step. I am not only talking about our bilateral relations but about our contacts on the international agenda, the work for the benefit of the entire world.

This morning, I visited the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery. The people of Leningrad sacrificed their lives to defend their city and their Motherland. I had a chance to honour their memory and lay a wreath. The people of Russia and the people of Leningrad gave their lives to make Russia the remarkable country it is today.

I saw the graves of all those who sacrificed their lives. I saw the grave of your older brother and learned about your family history, which was also related to the siege of Leningrad and the defence of Leningrad. I think it is very important that ordinary people and politicians are involved in defending their country.

Thank you again for such a warm welcome, particularly for the invitation to the St Petersburg forum, which I will attend tomorrow.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Thank you especially for visiting the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery. Such places have special significance for the Russian nation.

Thank you.


Spotlight: BRICS represents a vital force bolstering global economy: experts (В центре внимания: БРИКС представляет собой жизненно важную силу, укрепляющую глобальную экономику: эксперты) / China, June, 2017
Keywords: NDB, BRICS+, Expert_opinion

BEIJING, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The BRICS, with its five major members hailing from different continents, is a very significant voice for inclusive and multipolar development, said experts.

Given the fact that these are vital countries from their respective continents, they can come together and voice a certain consensus on major global issues, especially the world economy.

The ninth annual BRICS summit is set to be held in Xiamen, China, Sept. 3-5. The summit will be a time to reflect on a decade of the BRICS' growing presence on the global economic stage.

Economic growth marks one of the key merits of the group. The five countries' share in global GDP increased from about 12 percent to 23 percent in the past decade while contributing to more than half of global growth.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, Chairman of Observer Research foundation Mumbai in India, says the global economy needs a boost, and the BRICS might just be the answer.

The world economy has has suffered a slowdown in recent years, said Kulkarni in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"Therefore it is important that five countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa -- are together to give strong momentum to the continuation of globalization," said Kulkarni.

According to Kulkarni, the so-called developed north represented by Europe and the United States is no longer dominating the world economy. The world economy is increasingly being driven by countries in Asia and even Africa.

The BRICS is an important manifestation of multiplicity and multilateralism in the age of global interdependence, said B.R. Deepak, a professor at the Center for Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The BRICS and its New Development Bank represent the aspirations of the largest developing economies to have their due seats at the table of international systems of governance, Deepak said.

The BRICS bank was set up with an initial authorized capital of 100 billion U.S. dollars during the sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 2014. It officially opened in Shanghai in 2015.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the BRICS and other developing countries were responsible for 80 percent of global growth in 2016.

The newly established institutions will increasingly serve as a bridge between developing and developed countries, becoming instrumental in pushing global economic growth, and more importantly furthering South-South cooperation at various levels, the professor said.

Building on the success of the past ten years, the BRICS now eyes starting a new decade with a more expansive partnership to seek inclusive growth.0 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in March that China would explore a BRICS expansion, known as "BRICS Plus," and build a wider partnership with other major developing countries and organizations, so as to turn BRICS into the most-influential platform for South-South cooperation in the world.

The proposal for "BRICS Plus" is "not only timely in the light of China's presidency in BRICS," but provides new opportunities for expansion during a time when protectionism is spreading in the world economy, said chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) Yaroslav Lissovolik.

At the same time, he believes the "BRICS Plus" system should reach out to developed countries, and in this process the role of China is paramount.

"China's role here is very important, because the Silk Road project links the developing countries with the developed ones, the East and the West, so it can become one of the key chains in terms of megaprojects linking the North, South, West and East," he said.
Beijing forum to boost exchanges among BRICS nations (Пекинский форум будет способствовать обмену между странами БРИКС) / China, May, 2017
Keywords: Young_Diplomats_Forum
Author: Zhao Xinying

The third annual BRICS Young Diplomats Forum got underway at Beijing Normal University on Wednesday.

Seventy young diplomats from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are taking part in the forum, which will run until Saturday and is aimed at boosting people-to-people exchanges among BRICS nations.

The event — organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing Normal University and the government of Linyi, Shandong province — is seen as a warmup to the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian province, in September.

Wang Xiaolong, the Foreign Ministry's special envoy for BRICS affairs, said at the opening ceremony that the forum would lay solid foundations for September's summit.

Dong Qi, president of Beijing Normal University, added that the forum marked efforts by China to deepen understanding and friendship among young people from the five countries involved.

"Our university places great value on collaboration with BRICS nations, and we will take this opportunity to further cooperation with more higher education institutions in emerging economies," he said.

He added that his university worked with more than 40 colleges and universities from BRICS nations in 2015 and established the BRICS University Alliance.

"We will keep on working together to make the alliance a platform for educational cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. We will also work together to set up research centers and launch joint academic programs," Dong said.
India-Russia relations: Time for serious dialogue (Индийско-российские отношения: время для серьезного диалога) / India, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, SPIEF, expert_opinion

On 2 June, PM Modi will be the Guest of Honour at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum which in recent years has emerged as the "Russian Davos".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now visiting Russia — from 31 May to 2 June to participate in the 18th annual India-Russia Summit between him and President Vladimir Putin on 1 June. On 2 June, PM Modi will be the Guest of Honour at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum which in recent years has emerged as the "Russian Davos".

It is to the credit of Indian and Russian leaders that the regularity and momentum of annual summits have been maintained since they were launched 18 years ago during the first visit of Putin to India in October 2000. Putin can be termed as the architect of strong and vibrant bilateral relations as he has guided bilateral ties during his two terms as President from 2000 to 2008 and again from 2012 onwards. He provided significant impetus to bilateral strategic partnership which was upgraded to the level of special and privileged strategic partnership in 2010 during his four-year tenure as Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012.

A month ago, India and Russia marked the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations. A wide-ranging and ambitious programme of seminars, conferences, visits, cultural events, etc. throughout the year has been worked out to celebrate the event in a befitting manner. It is worth noting that bilateral relations between the two countries were established even before India formally achieved its independence.

Relations with the former Soviet Union, and, after 1991, with Russia, have been a solid pillar of India's foreign policy. The Soviet Union supported India in its industrial and economic development as well as in the United Nations. India helped the Soviet Union by adopting moderate positions when Soviet Union found itself arraigned internationally for actions in Hungary or Czechoslovakia for human rights abuses. The pinnacle in bilateral relations was reached in 1971 with the signing of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation.

Bilateral ties witnessed considerable turbulence at the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Peace Treaty was abandoned and both sides started looking to the west and other directions for new partnerships. This was the time when India established diplomatic ties with Israel, launched the Look East policy and made tentative moves to come closer to the US. Russia was looked down upon by the West and treated with disdain and pity as a vanquished State. Russia's growing disenchantment with the West brought it back to India. Russia did not join the sanction regime against India imposed by several western countries spearheaded by the US in the wake of India's nuclear tests in May, 1998. This show of support and strength was very valuable for India at that trying juncture.

Strategic partnership between the two countries was established in 2000. The last 17 years have seen a remarkable growth and expansion in bilateral ties in a wide variety of areas.

These include supply of defense equipment as well as their progressive manufacture in India. This has given a strong fillip to the Make in India Initiative launched by Prime Minister Modi. Brahmos Missile is a shining example of fruitful cooperation between the two countries. A number of far-reaching decisions including supply of S-400 Ballistic Missile Defense system, supply of 200 Kamov 226-T helicopters and several other defense systems were agreed upon during the 17th Annual Summit in Goa in October last year. Russia continues to be the main defense equipment provider to India notwithstanding the entry of new suppliers like USA, Israel and France in recent years. Over the past five years, Russia was the recipient of 70% of defense import orders placed by India.

Nuclear energy is another area which has shown remarkable growth. Two units of Kudankulam nuclear power plant of 1,000 MW each are already operational. Contracts for two more have already been signed. Contracts for units 5 and 6 as well as a further 6 to be established in Andhra Pradesh are yet to be signed. Talks are continuing. It is understood that India is going a little slow in entering into new deals because of delays in finalising its membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Discussions on expediting India's membership of NSG by persuading China to adopt a "merit based approach" would be on the Agenda of the two leaders when they meet on 1 June.

Hydrocarbons is another area in which both the countries are collaborating effectively and efficiently. Several agreements totaling more than US$ 10 billion were signed over the last few years, many of these at the last summit.

Bilateral trade is the only area where state of bilateral cooperation is not reflected in the volume of two-way exchanges. Currently bilateral trade turnover stands at around US$ 8 billion having come down from about US$ 11 billion a few years ago. A target of US$ 30 billion by 2025 has been fixed. Going by current estimates it would be difficult to come anywhere close to this level. Private business in India has to step up to the plate. Russia also needs to proactively open its market and reduce the non-tariff barriers on India's exports of pharmaceuticals, services, agricultural products, chemicals and light engineering goods. Discussions are expected to take place on establishment of a Free Trade Area (FTA) between India and the Eurasian Economic Union. A study was initiated on this issue two years ago which has come out with a positive recommendation. This FTA could prove to be a shot in the arm for enhancing bilateral commercial ties as India could get preferential access to a large market comprising of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

Modi will address the 4,000 or so of businessmen from 60 countries assembled in St. Petersburg and will invite and exhort them to expand business and trade ties with India and increase their investment. He will, as in Germany, recount the huge advantages that India offers in the field of commerce and economy as it has embarked upon a number of reforms including the soon to be launched GST, introduction of the bankruptcy code, seriousness to deal with non-performing assets of banks, as well as its high growth rate, good projected monsoon which all go to make India an increasingly attractive investment destination.

Modi will address the 4,000 or so of businessmen from 60 countries assembled in St. Petersburg and will invite and exhort them to expand business and trade ties with India and increase their investment.

In addition to discussions on existing areas of cooperation mentioned above, the most significant aspect of bilateral parleys is likely to focus on the changing and rapidly evolving geopolitical situation. The tectonic shifts in the global order present different challenges to different nations. First is the uncertainty introduced by the Trump Presidency. His avowed determination to mend ties with Russia appears to be hitting roadblocks in the US political leviathan, and floundering. Positions that Trump has taken during his recent participation in the G-7 and NATO meetings have made the Europeans disillusioned and nervous. His pronouncements in Saudi Arabia and Israel about taking up cudgels against Iran would have made Russia and its Iranian and Syrian allies anxious and worried. Both India and Russia would need to share their appreciation of the unfolding situation with each other. Prime Minister Modi will be able to add more current and authentic information, having just interacted with the German Chancellor and Spanish Prime Minister as part of his four-nation European tour.

China would be another major subject of discussion. Russia's closeness to China has increased significantly over the last few years. As expected, Putin was an enthusiastic and active participant in the Belt Road Forum in Beijing in mid-May 2017. Modi will explain India's reasons for staying away from the Forum and will share India's perspective on China's increasing assertiveness. He will emphasise the need to ensure that China's rise is indeed peaceful and does not adversely impact the status quo. Discussions about growing presence and influence of China in Central Asian states could also come up.

A significant aspect of the bilateral dialogue is likely to focus on Russia's growing ties with Pakistan and Taliban. It is more than likely that the perpetrators of the heinous attack in Kabul on 31 May are from Taliban. Security in Afghanistan and peace in Central Asia cannot be achieved without crippling the infrastructural, financial and logistic support being provided by Pakistan's army and ISI to Taliban, Haqqani network and others. Prime Minster Modi can be expected to inform President Putin that growing and normalising of Russia-Pakistan ties will embolden Pakistan and give it confidence to continue with its vicious activities without danger of any backlash or repercussions from the international community. Moreover, any type of cooperation between Russia and Pakistan in the defence sector, be it military equipment or exercises, would be used against India.

A few crinkles have appeared of late in the fabric of India-Russia bilateral ties. These concerns and misgivings continue to fester. They need to be resolved and set to rest quickly so that they don't cause damage to the rapidly expanding bilateral partnership.

Meeting between PM Modi and President Putin in St. Petersburg is an ideal opportunity to reinforce understanding and confidence so that the two countries navigate the treacherous seas of geopolitics to ensure security, stability and prosperity for their people and the world.

Five agreements signed by Russia and India during PM Modi's visit to St Petersburg (Пять соглашений, подписанных Россией и Индией во время визита премьер-министра Моди в Санкт-Петербург) / India, June, 2017
Keywords: SPIEF, Russia_India

Noting that India and Russia were celebrating the 70th anniversary of their relations, PM Narendra Modi said there has been no impact on the ties in all these decades.

India and Russia signed the much-awaited agreement on setting up of two more units of a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu and decided to give a "new direction" to the defence cooperation between the two "great powers". The two countries also decided to hold the first tri- Services exercises, named 'Indra-2017', this year and start joint manufacturing of frigates, adding on to the co- production of Kamov-226 military helicopters.

These decisions were taken at the wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin here which covered issues like terrorism and increasing trade and investment.

Addressing the media jointly with Putin after the talks, Modi said the relations between India and Russia have been unwavering, based on "mutual love, respect and strong trust".

"From culture to security, our relations have been at par... We speak in one language," he added. He said the two leaders had decided to speed up the bilateral cooperation in all fields, for which an 'Action Plan' has been devised.

Noting that India and Russia were celebrating the 70th anniversary of their relations, Modi said there has been no impact on the ties in all these decades. Putin described the talks as substantative and said the India-Russia "partnership is developing into strategic and priveleged one."

A Joint Declaration issued after the talks said that "the Indian-Russian special and privileged strategic partnership is a unique relationship of mutual trust between two great powers." It said the relationship covers all areas of cooperation, including in the spheres of political relations, security, trade and economy, military and technical field, energy, scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges, and foreign policy.

India and Russia on Thursday signed five bilateral agreements during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Russia.

The list of agreements is as follows:

1) A two-year-long agreement (2017-2019) on cultural exchanges between the two nations. This was signed by India's Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran and Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinskyii

2) A general framework agreement for the construction of the third stage of the Kudankulam NPP (KK5 & KK6) along with the Credit Protocol. This was signed by Satish Kumar Sharma, Chairman NPCIL and Alexei Likhachev, CEO ROSATOM

3) An agreement between the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) and the Council of India on Scientific and Industrial Research on granting access to Rospatent experts to the Indian Digital Library of Traditional Knowledge (TKDL). This was signed by Ambassador Pankaj Saran and Grigory Ivliev Head of ROSPATENT

4) Contract between JSC (Russian Railways) and the Ministry of Railways of the Republic of India on the preparation of the justification for the implementation of the high-speed service at the Nagpur-Secunderabad section. This was signed by Ambassador Pankaj Saran and Oleg Beloserov, President of Russian Railways

5) Memorandum of cooperation between ALROSA Joint Stock Company and the Council for the Promotion of the Export of Precious Stones and Jewellery of India. This was signed by Praveen Shankar Pandya, Chairman, Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) and Sergei Ivanov, President ALROSA
Investment and finance in BRICS
SA trade with BRICS big but unbalanced (Объемы торговли ЮАР с БРИКС большие, но сбалансированные) / South Africa, June, 2017
Keywords: SA_BRICS, trade
South Africa

In recent years trade between South Africa and its BRICS partners (Brazil, Russia, India and China) has increased markedly.

The value of trade between these countries and South Africa now equals trade between South Africa and the rest of Africa. In 2016, the imports and exports between SA and the rest of the continent amounted to R427 billion. In the same year SA trade with the BRICS partners amounted to R425 billion.

SA trade with these two groupings is substantial, and together these groups account for approximately 40% of all SA international trade.

However, there are massive discrepancies in the direction of trade with these groups. While SA exports to Africa are far more substantial than imports from the continent, the opposite is true of SA trade with the BRICS group.

South Africa's biggest trading partner in these groups (Africa and BRICS) is China. Over 70% of SA trade with BRICS is with China - that country accounts for 70% of all SA trade with the bloc.

The graphic below displays the relative volume of trade between SA and its BRICS partners.

However, China exports almost twice as much to South Africa than it imports from the country.

The situation is even more unbalanced with regard to Brazil which exports almost four times to SA than it imports.

Fortunately, SA trade with Brazil is relatively small and accounts for less than 4% of the BRICS total. The situation with regard to Russia and India is more equitable - imports from these countries match exports. However, imports and exports with Russia account for only 2% of all SA trade with BRICS.
BRICS NDB Studying Projects From Russia's Bashkortostan, Prioritizes Far East (НБР БРИКС изучает проекты из Башкортостана, уделяет приоритетное внимание Дальнему Востоку) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: NDB, investments, SPIEF

The BRICS New Development Bank is studying projects from Russia's Bashkortostan and also views the Far East region as a priority area for projects.

ST PETERSBURG (Sputnik) — The BRICS New Development Bank is studying projects from Russia's Bashkortostan and also views the Far East region as a priority area for projects, Bank's President Kundapur Vaman Kamath told Sputnik.

"Now we are looking at projects in Bashkortostan. That probably is going almost immediately. Far East is also a priority," he said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

The bank is planning to do at least two projects in Russia in 2017 out of a "pipeline" of ten projects intended for this year and 2018 Kamath added.

"We have a pipeline that will be done possibly this year and next year. The pipeline is more than 10 projects in various provinces… We will do two or three of them this year, and the rest — next year, " Kamath said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

The Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency is the official media partner of SPIEF.
India, Russia to set up joint ventures to build aircraft, automobiles (Индия и Россия создадут совместные предприятия по строительству самолетов, автомобилей) / India, June, 2017
Keywords: Russia_India, investment, SPIEF, manufacturing

India and Russia have agreed to set up joint ventures for manufacturing aircraft and automobiles as the two nations look to boost trade and economic ties. Russian President Vladimir Putin, after summit talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, said Russian-Indian economic cooperation is returning to a growth trajectory. "We both have a stake in consolidating this positive trend," he said. "Our talks are always held in a warm and friendly atmosphere, and are always substantive and productive. This time was no exception."

Putin said agreements made in the St Petersburg Declaration outlines steps to further deepen bilateral cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres. "Encouraging the growth of trade, improving its structure, and expanding industrial cooperation constitute our key priority," he said.

Bilateral trade, he said, was declining in recent years but has reversed this year. It rose by 29 per cent in the first quarter of 2017.

"As of today the sides have agreed a list of 19 projects aimed at establishing joint ventures for transport infrastructure, new technology, including pharmaceuticals, aircraft and automobile manufacturing, the diamond industry, and agriculture," he said without giving details.

After summit talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing of an agreement on intellectual property, a master framework agreement on building two units at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, a programme of bilateral cultural exchanges for 2017–2019, an agreement on a feasibility study for a high-speed link between Nagpur and Secunderabad, and a memorandum on cooperation between joint stock company ALROSA and India's Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.

Also signed were documents on building Russian-designed nuclear power plants at new sites in India, developing a bilateral leasing platform, developing bilateral investment activity, and developing rail transport vehicles.

Russia's cumulative investment in the Indian economy exceeded USD 4 billion, and Indian investment in Russia is USD 8 billion.

"All these facts show that Russian-Indian economic cooperation is returning to a growth trajectory, and we both have a stake in consolidating this positive trend," Putin said.

Putin said the cooperation is not limited to direct supplies of the latest Russian military equipment to India. "The assembly of high-tech military products has been set up in India with Russia's participation. We agreed with the Prime Minister to continue to jointly develop and manufacture modern weapons systems."

At the CEO forum that immediately followed the Summit discussions, Putin said over the past seven decades, first the Soviet Union and then Russia built steel works, power stations, chemicals plants, gas pipelines, agribusiness facilities, and transport infrastructure in India. "We in Russia are proud of this capital we have developed together," he said.

He said it was 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."

Businessmen of the two nations can create new, high value-added products and build production chains, including for promoting their goods and services on third country markets, he said. "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, he said, 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."

BRICS' NDB Seeks to Finance Projects in Members' Local Currencies - Head (НБР БРИКС стремится финансировать проекты в местных валютах стран-членов: Глава Банка) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: NDB, investments, SPIEF

The BRICS NDB will consider financing projects in local currencies of its member countries, NDB President said on the sidelines of the SPIEF.

ST. PETERSBURG (Sputnik) — The New Development Bank (NDB), established by the BRICS states, will consider financing projects in local currencies of its member countries, NDB President Kundapur Vaman Kamath told Sputnik on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

"We will look at lending into China in local currency. We want to be able to say that about other countries also. There are two options – we need to raise money in local currency and then lend, which we will probably start doing later this year. We will probably do a bond issue in India and maybe in other countries," Kamath said.

He added that the idea of setting up a local currency market was gaining momentum this year.

The NDB is a a financial institution within the BRICS, an association of five developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which is aimed at enhancing cooperation in multiple spheres between the member states.

The 21st SPIEF kicked off on Thursday for its three-day run, gathering high-ranking politicians and prominent business leaders from dozens of countries in Russia's city of St. Petersburg. Sputnik News Agency is the official media partner of the forum.
BRICS NDB Head Expects Bank To Approve Over 15 Projects Worth $3 Bln In 2017 (Глава НБР БРИКС ожидает, что банк утвердит более 15 проектов стоимостью 3 млрд долларов в 2017 году) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: NDB, SPIEF

President of the BRICS New Development Bank Kundapur Vaman Kamath told Sputnik he expected the bank's board of directors to approve more than 15 projects in 2017 amounting to $2.5-$3 billion.

ST PETERSBURG (Sputnik) — The New Development Bank was established in 2014 by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the five major emerging economies, also known as BRICS.

"In 2016 we did around $1.5 billion across all the countries. This year, we are planning to do a little more than double of that, 2.5-3 billion in funding for this year. It's a sharp increase… We are looking to do more than 15 projects this year in all of our member countries " Kamath said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

The 21st SPIEF is scheduled for Thursday-Saturday and is expected to gather high-ranking politicians and prominent business leaders from dozens of countries. The Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency is the official media partner of the forum.

The Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency is the official media partner of SPIEF.
BRICS: Boosting Economic Cooperation (БРИКС: усиление экономического сотрудничества) / Russia, June, 2017
Keywords: SPIEF, NDB, Russia_India


  • Cooperation of the BRICS economies is evolving rapidly
The BRICS countries have set up relevant committees and organisations to coordinate their activities and identify promising projects, according to Bulelani Magwanishe, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa.

During its first year of operations, the BRICS New Development Bank financed projects for over USD 1.5 billion with a focus on green projects, according to Kundapur Vaman Kamath, President, New Development Bank (NDB).

Countries are cooperating at the level of particular industries or corporations: e. g. a number of transportation projects are underway or in the pipeline. Russian Railways are currently elaborating a project involving the conclusion of a concession agreement with respect to Brazil's railways, said in his presentation Alexander Misharin, First Vice President, Russian Railways.


  • Lack of transportation infrastructure and related logistics issues
"I realized it clearly during our trip to India. We saw there was clear demand for our products, however it was too difficult to organise the delivery of products, there were too many logistical issues making all the deliveries inefficient," said Boris Dubrovsky, Governor of Chelyabinsk Region.

"Russia, China and India are all here in Eurasia... We ought to connect them with a railway taking into account that they do not share a connection now," said Alexander Misharin, First Vice President, Russian Railways.

"Above all else, the logistical issues are impeding the progress," said Azat Fazlyev, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Bashkortostan.

  • Weakness of the BRICS currencies
"The local currencies historically were seen as not feasible, and you had to use the hard currency for lending.
But clearly the trends seen in the exchange rates in the last year or two indicate the risk of relying on hard currencies, and not on local currencies. And again, there is no consensus amongst the BRICS countries that we should increase the use of local currencies, but we must work on that," said Kundapur Vaman Kamath, President, New Development Bank (NDB).

  • Uneven economic development within the BRICS economies
"There is significant inequality in income distribution...for example, in South Africa and Brazil. The inequality may exist at the regional level, i. e. in regional income distribution. Russia and South Africa have one of the highest levels of inter-regional inequality, while India is a country with one of the highest levels of inequality in terms of the distribution of national wealth and assets," said Yaroslav Lissovolik, Chief Economist, Member of the Management Board, Eurasian Development Bank (EDB).


  • Tighter cooperation at the regional, departmental and sectoral levels.
"We think that the idea we promote at the SCO, governor club, region club, where economic and cultural relations can be discussed, <...> I suggest that our experience should be studied and used by the BRICS," said Boris Dubrovsky.

"The role of development banks, development institutions and their joint efforts, joint steps, including co-financing of projects is really important <...> The future of financing of such projects [HPP in Karelia] lies in the interaction between national and global development institutions," said Yaroslav Lissovolik.

"We could think of setting up a working group on an international high-tech investment fund here at this summit," said Vadim Kulikov, First Deputy CEO, Agency for Technological Development.

  • Large-scale and joint projects on transport infrastructure development.
"If you want to grow, if you want to prosper, everybody understands that we should build roads," said Xiao Sun, Deputy Director General, Cooperation Department, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

"We have engaged in active cooperation with our Indian partners. Today, an agreement will be signed on the upgrade of some sections and lines of Indian railways to carry trains at a speed of 200 km/h," said Alexander Misharin.

"Together with our Chinese partners, we are running a project to develop high-speed traffic that has grown not only into the Silk Road and Moscow–Beijing concepts, but also gradually into a project called Eurasia, which involves the integration of the largest high-speed systems of Europe and Asia," said Alexander Misharin.

  • Use of local currencies to finance investment projects of the New Development Bank within BRICS.
"Investments in local currencies can help develop markets <...> We should increase the use of local currencies," said Kundapur Vaman Kamath, President, New Development Bank (NDB).
China, Russia share much to expand economic cooperation (Китай и Россия активно сотрудничают для расширения экономического сотрудничества) / China, May, 2017
Keywords: Russia_China, Xiamen_summit, NDB, RAUIE

MOSCOW — Roughly three months ahead of a BRICS summit to be held in China, Russian analysts saw immense potential to increase and diversify economic cooperation between Russia and China.

Vast opportunities can be created during the development of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the process of Russia's import substitution industrialization, experts said, adding that closer economic ties between the two strategic partners will be mutually beneficial.

They also believe China-Russia trade should be expanded to more non-energy sectors so that bilateral economic cooperation can develop in a sustainable way.

These remarks were made at a time when BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- are busy preparing for the ninth summit of the bloc's leaders on Sept 3-5 in Xiamen City in East China's Fujian province.

Infrastructure, industrial investment

The development of transport facilities is one of the key problems Russia faces, given its vast territory and low quality of roads and railways.

"Chinese investment and joint projects will play a major role in the vast areas of Siberia and the Far East, as well as in other parts of Russia," said Sergei Luzyanin, director of the Far Eastern Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Luzyanin pinned high hopes on the Belt and Road Initiative, which can "greatly stimulate the development of infrastructure."

To finance infrastructure construction, the BRICS New Development Bank should play a bigger role, said Yaroslav Lissovolik, chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank.

Russia responded to Western sanctions following its annexation of Crimea in 2014 with a so-called "import substitution" policy in various sectors in a bid to boost domestic industrial production.

The process of import substitution industrialization creates opportunities for Chinese direct investment in Russia, said Vitaly Monkevich, president of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RAUIE).

"This is beneficial for both sides as Chinese businesses will achieve a higher profit rate and the ability to sell products to China, and Russia will get investment and new jobs," said Monkevich.

According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Chinese companies invested more than $100 million in Russia between January and April this year.

"We see a serious interest in Russia-China cooperation from business circles of both countries," said Monkevich.

Non-energy sector partnership

Trade between China and Russia jumped 26.2 percent year-on-year to $24.7 billion dollars in the first four months of 2017, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

In addition to oil and gas, Russian analysts saw the possibility of expanding bilateral trade to more areas.

"RAUIE members often turn to us with requests for export of sunflower oil, honey, ice cream, confectionery and alcohol ... We see a great potential for the development of exports other than raw materials," said Monkevich.

As for space cooperation between Russia and China, Luzyanin expects joint manned space stations and joint space missions in the future.

Furthermore, Luzyanin and Lissovolik, who are also members of the Russian think tank Valdai Discussion Club, suggested Chinese and Russian programmers cooperate in ensuring cybersecurity and developing Internet-based business.

"All this together creates a new quality for the growth of Russia-China cooperation. We can deal with oil and gas and talk about diversifying cooperation at the same time," said Luzyanin.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that both countries should maintain the development of pragmatic cooperation.

Wang echoed Putin's appeal, saying that Russia and China should further deepen cooperation in such fields as trade and investment and explore new sources of economic growth.
Exclusive interview with President of New Development Bank (Эксклюзивное интервью с президентом НБР) / China, June, 2017
Keywords: NDB, SPIEF
Author: He Yan

The annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum kicked off on Thursday in the city of St. Petersburg in Moscow. The forum has been regarded by many as the BRICS nation's gesture to reach to the rest of the world, especially as it undergoes dramatic change.

One of those changes is the increasing influence that emerging economies have on both the global economy and the new world order.

China and Russia, together with other BRICS nations, established the New Development Bank two years ago. This multilateral development bank has attracted spotlight in a world in urgent need of infrastructure development and investment capital.

"There are various ways in which this change is happening." says K. V. Kamath, the President of the New Development Bank. "But to me, the most important thing that the BRICS's founders coming together was to signal that developing countries can stand on their own feet."

So far, the existing system is basically lending hard currency, but now the system is talking more local currency, notes Kamath, adding that in three years, "the local currency is going to be as accepted as a hard currency in the financing pattern globally."

The focus of the New Development Bank is on renewable and green energy, and it is operating projects in countries like China, India, and Brazil.

When it comes to other infrastructure banks, Kamath says he sees cooperation rather than competition, because "the need is so large. Everyone has a role to play to attract money in. But how to get others to bring money into the project and give them the confidence to do it, that is the central opportunity and challenge before us," he said.
Can investors trust Russian and BRICS ratings agencies? (Могут ли инвесторы доверять рейтинговым агентствам России и БРИКС?) / UK, May, 2017
Keywords: ACRA
Author: Daniel Cash

Over the past couple of decades, credit rating agencies have been steadily coming into the public consciousness, for a number of reasons.

Their centralised involvement in the recent financial crisis prompted a concerted outcry against the business practices and position of the leading rating agencies Standard & Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch Ratings - the so-called 'Big Three'.

This resulted in the agencies being directly regulated by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 in the US and the three major CRA regulations in the EU, before being fined by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to the tune of over $2bn split between S&P and Moody's.

But the position of the agencies within the economy has not been reduced, nor has their ability to misbehave.

In light of this understanding, a number of sovereign nations have decided that their treatment at the hands of these leading US-based agencies is unfair or prejudiced.

As such, they have endeavoured to develop their own rating agencies to counter the global influence of the 'Big Three'.

ACRA-monious beginnings?

However, the way in which these nations decide to do this is crucial and, using Russia's recent foray into this field with its new Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA), we can see that it is vital that one element, more than any other, is visible to investors: that element is perceived independence.

Let's be clear: this notion of 'perceived independence' is not actually important. Quite simply, it is no secret that the leading agencies are not independent - they are paid by the people they rate (known as 'issuer-pays').

However, the Big Three have an air of familiarity that serves to protect them in the eyes of their users - investors - which, apart from the other elements of the 'natural oligopoly' that the rating industry represents, serves to protect them from competition.

That said, the notion of 'perceived independence' paradoxically does affect newcomers to the industry, and we can see that with the recent Russian entrant to the marketplace.

In 2015, Russia issued new regulations to govern the operations of rating agencies within its jurisdiction, with the main elements of the regulations allowing for the Central Bank of Russia to interfere with the actions of agencies more than ever before.

The result, unsurprisingly, was that two of the Big Three immediately vacated Russia (Moody's and Fitch) and have been on an adversarial footing with Russia ever since.

With regards to the new Russian regulations, the first agency to be formally ratified by the Central Bank was not S&P, as one might expect, but a new Russian rating agency known as the ACRA.

ACRA was set up in 2015 and has 27 major Russian financial institutions as its shareholders. Although it only has a small working capital (less than $50m), it has the same stated aims as the leading rating agencies - independence, prevention of conflicts of interests, and transparency.

The Russian government has suggested that it aims to use ACRA as its 'yardstick' and, hopefully, as the vehicle with which the country can demonstrate its creditworthiness to international investors at some point in the future.

Conflicts of interest

But while some have praised ACRA for offering an alternative (which is a vital endeavour in this field), this notion of it becoming the vehicle to display Russia's creditworthiness to international investors is the very reason why ACRA is unlikely to work.

And while the Big Three are understood to be compromised by way of financial influence, for ACRA, it is being suggested that the ratings will also be compromised, but by way of political influence - something with ACRA's chief executive, Ekaterina Trofimova, has been at pains to refute.

Unfortunately for the ACRA, it is unlikely that these claims will recede, and whilst they remain the agency will forever be under President Putin's shadow, which has a demonstrable effect upon its future and its aims.

As the agency aims to demonstrate Russian creditworthiness, it is not reasonable to suggest that international investors would trust ACRA's ratings over that of any of the Big Three, irrespective of the reasoning behind their ratings.

One way to resolve this would be for research to compare the ratings of Russian debt by ACRA and the Big Three over a number of years to examine any divergences - but this will take time, and it is likely, with the oligopolistic environment, that ACRA would not even exist by the time the research would be completed.

BRICS initiatives

So, while the endeavour shown by ACRA is unlikely to be rewarded by institutional investors, it also casts a huge doubt on other endeavours being undertaken by other BRICS members.

The leaders of the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) declared after a summit in 2015 that the bloc wanted to set up a rating agency that would fairly represent their interests.

It is very likely that this process will be accelerated after the recent news that Moody's have downgraded China's sovereign rating for the first time in 30 years - warning of its increasing levels of debt.

Yet, the same problem emerges. Developing a rating agency, from scratch, for the purposes of representing the interests of a particular nations (or group of nations) will not be successful.

This is not because it should not be, but simply because investors will not be able to 'trust' in the independence (or source of conflict) from these new agencies.

It is particularly difficult for countries to facilitate the private growth of an agency within their jurisdiction without that agency being accused of being an agent for the host government.

So in that sense, this current wave of state-sponsored action in the rating industry will, unfortunately, not threaten the hegemony of the Big Three.

What can threaten this hegemony is the globalised support for non-profit endeavours such as that of the International Non-Profit Credit Rating Agency (INCRA) being developed by the Bertelsmann Foundation, or the Credit Research Initiative being developed by the National University of Singapore (or, as this author has suggested, an amalgamation of the two).

This is because, at once, we would remove the inherent conflict of the issuer-pays remuneration model and the 'perceived' conflict of political influence, all while developing a 'forward-thinking' mentality that is sorely missing from the credit rating environment today.

Dr Daniel Cash is a lecturer in law at Aston University
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Competition Commission investigates conduct of all pharmaceutical companies operating in South Africa and BRICS (Комиссия по конкуренции расследует действия всех фармацевтических компаний, работающих в Южной Африке и БРИКС) / South Africa, May, 2017
Keywords: World_Bank, competition_commisssion_investigation, SA
South Africa

The DA welcomes the Competition Commission's preliminary investigation into the market conduct of all pharmaceutical companies operating in South Africa and in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa) consortium.

The World Bank has raised concerns about cartel-like practices that tend to drive medicine prices upwards and this requires investigation.

Following extensive high-level engagements between Aspen Pharmacare and the Health Portfolio of the Democratic Alliance, necessitated by a previous press release, the DA is satisfied that there is no evidence that Aspen is involved in the same practices that they are accused of having pursued in Europe.

Black Business Council to promote SMEs in BRICS regions ("Черный деловой совет" содействует МСП в регионах БРИКС) / South Africa, May, 2017
Keywords: event, SPIEF
South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – A business delegation led by the president of the Black Business Council (BBC), Danisa Baloyi, will be visiting Russia and China from Thursday to promote trade and investment in South Africa.

The 21st St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2017), which will take place from June 1–3, will be addressed by among others Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Schwab will speak on leadership in the fourth industrial revolution. The forum will also discuss how BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) can boost economic cooperation.

The conference aims to bring together nearly 1,000 SMEs from BRICS countries and the world at large for matchmaking meetings and conduct a series of activities to strengthen trade and financial cooperation among BRICS businesses.

Baloyi will lead South African SMEs for "cross-border matchmaking" aims.

Deputy minister of trade and industry, Bulelani Magwanishe, will address a session focusing on the possibilities for initiating a new level of industrial and technological cooperation, and the support the New Development Bank can provide for projects implemented within the BRICS economies.

Baloyi and Magwanishe will also participate in a panel discussion that deals with Russia and Africa, "A Structural Approach to Cooperation in the New Economic Reality".

Baloyi will also attend the "2017 BRICS High-tech SME Cross-border Investment and Trade Cooperation Conference" in Tianjin, China next week.
Cybersecurity is debated at BRICS Think Tank Symposium, in China (Кибербезопасность обсуждается на симпозиуме ученых БРИКС в Китае) / Brazil, June, 2017
Keywords: Think_Tank_Symposium

Luca Belli, senior researcher from the Center for Technology and Society (CTS) of FGV's Rio de Janeiro Law School (Direito Rio), participated in the BRICS Think Tank Symposium held in Chongqing, China. The expert gave a presentation on cyber economy and cybersecurity.

Specialized in Internet regulation and governance, Belli presented a paper on "Legal Interoperability in BRICS," pointing out the need for compatible regulatory frameworks that define shared levels of obligations for corporations and protection for individuals in BRICS countries.

"BRICS countries will only be able to truly tap into the potential of e-commerce and strengthen cybersecurity by establishing a coherent strategy and compatible regulatory frameworks. The recent cyberattacks clearly explain the urgency of implementing efficient and compatible mechanisms to ensure cybersecurity and protect personal data across all BRICS countries. These measures are paramount to increase user confidence in e-commerce and promote innovative services," said Belli.

The symposium was organized in a joint effort between the China Council on BRICS Think Tank Cooperation and Sichuan International Studies University. Chongqing is the largest and most populous Chinese province, besides one of the country's main economic and technological hubs. During the event, Belli was invited to prepare the next report on cyber economy and cybersecurity of the BRICS, promoted by the Southwest University of Chongqing.
Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
Book chapter: Do the BRICS possess soft power? (Глава книги: Есть ли у БРИКС мягкая сила?) / Brazil, June, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion

Book chapter abstract

Has soft power in the emerging world risen commensurately to its hard power? Can the BRICS' soft power rival that of the West as emerging powers expand their global presence? An analysis of the questions above shows that, despite remarkable economic growth during the first decade of the twenty-first century, BRICS countries' capacity to enhance their soft power is highly uneven, and they still struggle to rival established Western powers in most of the concept's dimensions. Still, the BRICS grouping, created on the basis of economic forecasts, is increasingly being used as a platform to enhance soft power, primarily through the creation of the New Development Bank and a series of other institutions.
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