The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was established in 2015 to encourage foreign investments in the RFE.
The EEF displays the economic potential, suitable business conditions and investment opportunities in the region.
Agreements signed at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) increased from 217 in 2017 to 380 agreements in 2021, worth 3.6 trillion roubles.
The agreements focus on infrastructure, transportation projects, mineral excavations, construction, industry and agriculture.
China, South Korea, Japan and India are the Key Players in the region, where China is the biggest investor.
China who sees potential in promoting the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Polar Sea Route in the Russia’s Far East (RFE).
China’s investments in the region account for 90% of the total investments.
The Trans-Siberian Railway has further helped Russia and China in advancing trade ties.
China is also looking to develop its Heilongjiang province which connects with the RFE.
South Korea has gradually invested in shipbuilding projects, manufacturing of electrical equipment, gas-liquefying plants, agricultural production and fisheries.
Japan identified eight areas of economic cooperation and pushed private businesses to invest in the development of the RFE.
Japan seeks to depend on Russian oil and gas resources after the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima.
However, the momentum was lost due to the Kuril Islands dispute.
Through the EEF, India aims to establish a strong inter-state interaction with Russia, through agreements in the diamond and pharmaceuticals industry.
Russia has strategically developed the region with the aim of connecting Russia to the Asian trading routes.
With the fast modernisation of cities like Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita and more, Russia aims to attract more investments in the region.
To survive the economic crisis and the sanctions with the help of China and other Asian powers.
Significance of the Russia’s Far East (RFE)
The region encompasses one-third of Russia’s territory and is rich with natural resources such as fish, oil, natural gas, wood, diamonds and other minerals.
The small population living in the region is another factor for encouraging people to move and work in the Far East.
The region’s riches and resources contribute to 5 % of Russia’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
But despite the abundance and availability of materials, procuring and supplying them is an issue due to the unavailability of personnel.
The RFE is geographically placed at a strategic location, acting as a gateway into Asia.
What does India Seek at the Forum?
India seeks to expand its influence in the RFE. During the forum, India expressed its readiness in expanding trade, connectivity and investments in Russia.
India is keen to deepen its cooperation in energy, pharmaceuticals, maritime connectivity, healthcare, tourism, the diamond industry and the Arctic.
In 2019, India offered a USD 1 billion line of credit to develop infrastructure in the region.
Through the EEF, India aims to establish a strong inter-state interaction with Russia.
Business representatives of Gujarat and the Republic of Sakha (Russia) have launched agreements in the diamond and pharmaceuticals industry.
How does India act at Balancing Between the EEF and IPEF?
Since the coming together of countries like Myanmar, Armenia, Russia, and China for EEF seems like the forming of an Anti-Sanctions Group in the international order, India has vested interests in both the forums, EEF and IPEF (U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework).
India has not shied away from investing in the Russia-initiated EEF despite the current international conditions, where western countries impose Sanctions on Russia.
At the same time, India has given its confirmation and acceptance to three of the four pillars in the IPEF.
India understands the benefits of being involved in the development of the RFE but it also perceives the IPEF as a vital platform to strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The IPEF also presents an ideal opportunity for India to act in the region, without being part of the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or other regional groupings like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.