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29 Mar, 2023 22:05

Russia and India seek to break the dollar monopoly and dominate Eurasian trade

A forum in New Delhi has outlined key trade links ahead of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum
Russia and India seek to break the dollar monopoly and dominate Eurasian trade

The ‘Russia-India Business Forum: Strategic Partnership for Development and Growth’ opened in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The event, which is jointly organized by Russia’s Roscongress Foundation and India’s Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) along with other affiliates from the two nations, aims to chart a course to boosting bilateral trade from $31 billion last year to $50 billion this year.

Panelists from both nations – whose numbers included politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats and business personalities – discussed strengthening trade ties, expressing hope that, together, the two countries can make Greater Eurasia – a vast region comprising 93 countries with 5.4 billion inhabitants – a territory of global trade and commerce for emerging players. The two sides expressed a shared belief that Russia and India can emerge as dominant players in the region, with the opportunity provided by “ineffective” Western sanctions over Moscow’s military operation against Ukraine.

The two Russian panelists – President of the Technological Sovereignty Exports Association Andrey Bezrukov and Chairman of the Board of the Business Council for Cooperation with India Sergey Cheryomin – spoke about ongoing change in regional geopolitics, saying that “a new era in global relations has dawned” and “main trade flows are no longer directed westwards.” They also advocated for the creation of a new financial mechanism to break the monopoly of the US dollar in global trade.

Bezrukov expressed optimism about the prospect of opening new trade corridors in central Asia – powered by the Beijing-headquartered Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – beyond the conventional Caspian Sea and Iran’s Strait of Hormuz, as a means to speed up regional economic growth and development and strengthen energy security.

The forum’s participants took aim at Western monopoly in the high-tech market, with Cheryomin criticizing “Western colonialism in digital packaging” while urging Russia and India to become “leaders of a non-aligned tech movement.” He described it as a potential win-win scenario for both sides amid mass layoffs by big US corporations such as Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Meta.

“It’s an ideal scenario for Russia and India to collaborate in the IT sector. Russia holds an edge in developing indigenous technology while India has been traditionally low on research and development in IT. A joint collaboration could be a game-changer,” he said.

Additional Secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade of the Indian Ministry of Commerce Rajiv Singh Thakur agreed with Cheryomin, saying that knowledge transfer and joint development in the fields of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) could be mutually beneficial. The talks centered on IT companies in Russia and India that have complementary technological and human resources to achieve technological sovereignty via the creation of common products and platforms.

The Russian panelists advertised smart-city technology as an example for India, which launched its own smart city program in 2015 and is facing the challenge of an expected 800 million people living in cities or urban agglomerations in 20 years. As a selling point, they brought up Moscow’s various e-government and e-citizen services, which are estimated to have saved each Muscovite a total of three days of time last year. They also extolled the speed of the city’s growth and development, saying Moscow’s “economy can be compared to a medium-sized European country,” and highlighted that the capital's “excellent infrastructure such as 100 subway stations, and robust digital environment” could be emulated in India.

The panel also touched upon digital healthcare as an area primed for collaboration in order to boost life expectancy and improve people’s quality of life. The speakers discussed ongoing work on the development of telemedicine, the fight against infectious diseases and increasing trade in pharmaceutical products. Talks are in progress between Indian and Russian companies for the procurement of active pharmaceutical ingredients, the development of innovative drugs and implementation of nuclear medicine technologies.

The two-day Russia-India Business Forum concludes on Thursday. It is part of the foreign events program under the auspices of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), whose 26th iteration will be held from June 14 to 17.

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