The Eastern Economic Forum

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    Recently ,Russia hosted the seventh Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) Vladivostok from September 5 to 8. 

    • The four-day forum is a platform for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses into Russia’s Far East (RFE).

    Russia’s Far East (RFE).

    • It is geographically placed at a strategic location; acting as a gateway into Asia. 
    • 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 region’s riches and resources contribute to five percent of Russia’s GDP.
    • The sparse population living in the region is another factor for encouraging people to move and work in the Far East. 

    About the Eastern Economic Forum

    • It was established in 2015 to encourage foreign investments in the RFE.
    • It displays the economic potential, suitable business conditions and investment opportunities in the region. 
    • Focus : The agreements focus on infrastructure, transportation projects, mineral excavations, construction, industry and agriculture
    • Relevance for Russia : The EEF is an annual gathering, the forum comes at an opportune time for Russia who is dealing with the impact of the sanctions. 
      • Moreover, the coming together of countries like Myanmar, Armenia, Russia, and China seems like the forming of an anti-sanctions group in the international order.
      • The primary objective of the EEF is to increase the Foreign Direct Investments in the RFE. 
      • This year, the Forum aimed at connecting the Far East with the Asia Pacific region.

     

    Major actors in the Forum

    • China is the biggest investor in the region as it sees potential in promoting the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and the Polar Sea Route in the RFE. China’s investments in the region account for 90% of the total investments.
    • South Korea has also been gradually increasing its investments in the region. 
      • South Korea has invested in shipbuilding projects, manufacturing of electrical equipment, gas-liquefying plants, agricultural production and fisheries. 
    • Japan is another key trading partner in the Far East. In 2017, Japanese investments through 21 projects amounted to $16 billion. 

    India’s Interest in 

    • Russia’s Far East (RFE) : India seeks to expand its influence in the RFE. During the forum, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed the country’s 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 also offered a $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. 
    •  Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) :It 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 grouping like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership .
      • The IPEF will also play a key role in building resilient supply chains. India’s participation in the forum will help in disengaging from supply chains that are dependent on China and will also make it a part of the global supply chain network. 
      • Additionally, the IPEF partners will act as new sources of raw material and other essential products, further reducing India’s reliance on China for raw materials.
      • Although, Mr. Modi has refrained from full participation in the trade pillar of the IPEF, it does not signify an end to India’s role in the forum.

    Balance between  EEF and IPEF

    • The U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) and the EEF are incomparable based on its geographic coverage and the partnership with the host-countries.
    •  India has vested interests in both the forums and has worked towards balancing its involvement. India has not shied away from investing in the Russia-initiated EEF despite the current international conditions.
    • At the same time, India has given its confirmation and acceptance to three of the four pillars in the IPEF. 
    • The country 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. 

     

    Mains Practise Question 

    [Q] What do you understand about the Eastern Economic Forum(EEF) ? Will India be able to achieve a balance between the EEF and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)?comment .