Russia, India Considering Caspian Sea Shipbuilding & Maritime Maintenance Joint Ventures
By Chris Devonshire-Ellis
Russia and India are working to conclude an intergovernmental agreement in shipbuilding and ship repair, the Indian Ambassador to Russia, Pawan Kapur has stated in Astrakhan on Thursday after a meeting with Governor of the Astrakhan Region Igor Babushkin.
“We are working on an intergovernmental agreement on shipbuilding and ship repair. I would like to note that I suggest that Astrakhan-based companies consider the possibility of using their competencies and ship personnel at our shipyards in India. I am participating in negotiations with Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC). We will see how these two interests can be combined,” Kapur said. USC are Russia’s largest shipbuilder and possesses the Lotos Shipyards , the Astrakhan Shipbuilding Production Association, the Third International Shipyard, and a number of subcontracting companies, as well as the Red Barricades shipyard, forming a single industrial complex. . India also has a significant shipbuilding industry in Gujarat.
The concept makes sense as India-Russia bilateral trade is booming, with the INSTC and shipping across the Caspian to Russia’s Ports around the Astrakhan region an important entry point to access the Russian markets. Russia’s Caspian shore is a gateway to the Volga River; four of the countries largest cities are situated along the route, including Moscow, while Volga River rail connectivity leads across Russia.
The INSTC route connects Russia and India via the Caspian Sea and the Iranian rail section from its Caspian coastline to the Persian Gulf at Iran’s Chabahar Port, which India is also a major investor in. Mumbai is just a 36 hour voyage from Chabahar.
The two countries are looking to diversify trade away from oil and gas purchases by India, which means developing Indian market access in Russia. The two countries are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement via the India-Eurasian Economic Union FTA, with India wanting assurances it can develop trade and investment with Russia beyond the energy sphere.
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