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SPIEF 2019: Business between India and Russia in search of ‘new blood’

ksenia kondratieva St Petersburg | Updated on June 09, 2019

The two countries are keen on exploring new business opportunities

Start-ups, artificial intelligence and manufacturing digitisation should become the growth drivers of Indo-Russian economic cooperation, which has traditionally focused on defence, energy and pharmaceuticals. This was the thought voiced at a Russia-India session during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday.

The two countries are keen on exploring new business opportunities, despite the fact that participation of Indian businesses at SPIEF has been limited this year, due to the recently concluded elections and Russia’s increased focus on China.

The Indian Ambassador to Russia, D Bala Venkatesh Varma, said Indian businesses have not looked at Russia with due seriousness. He added the Indian corporate sector could look at Russia’s national projects, outlined in Vladimir Putin’s so-called “May decrees” (the Russian government plans to spend around $390 billion on projects around demography, healthcare, education and infrastructure till 2024) .

Investing in India

Varma added that India could look at various business models that Russia has established with other countries, as well as focus on the digital economy and start-ups. Young entrepreneurs — whom he sees as the “new blood” — could fill the stream of trade and investment flows between the countries.

Pharmaceuticals has been one of the traditional industries where India and Russia have developed strong ties. However, according to Vikram Singh Punia, founder of Pharmasyntez, one of the largest drug manufacturers in Russia, India and Russia should change the model of cooperation.

As Russia is pushing for development of domestic manufacturing of generic drugs, the business of importing generics from India is not working any more, he said. Instead, Punia suggested, India should look at attracting Russian investment in creating manufacturing facilities in the country.

Siddharth Bhatia, Vice-President at Invest India, said the government promotion agency has recently created a special Russian desk that would support investors from Russia to explore opportunities in India.

Russia is interested in developing cooperation in the transportation sector, including Railways. According to Alexander Misharin, first deputy CEO of Russian Railways, Russia is ready to transfer technologies and innovations for manufacturing of rolling stock to India and is also exploring cooperation in Digital Railways.

Currently, several Russia-based IT companies and venture funds are exploring investment opportunities in India. According to Igor Bogachev, CEO of Zyfra, the industrial digitalisation company has recently entered Indian market and has secured orders from Godrej, the Indian Railways, and other industrial majors.

Ksenia Kondratieva is a freelance writer based in Moscow

Published on June 09, 2019

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