India to follow China in importing Russian timber

Following China’s example, India now intends to start importing timber from Siberia and the Russian Far East.

According to the India Times, the possibility of importing more timber from Russia was discussed between August 11-13 in Vladivostok, Russia, during a visit by an Indian delegation that was led by Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and included the heads of four Indian states and 140 Indian companies.

On the Russian side, the talks were attended by Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev, the governors of 11 Russian federal subjects, and the senior managers of 200 Russian companies.

The agreements reached by the two countries to increase bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025 are set to be confirmed during a personal meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of the Eastern Economic Forum in September, informed sources told the India Times.

According to the sources, topics discussed in Vladivostok included joint projects in the area of diamond processing, rare earth metal mining, natural gas, tourism and agriculture.

In addition, the Indian delegation expressed interest in importing timber: India could cover its internal shortage using wood from the Russian Far East.

India is counting on favorable investment conditions, including tax concessions and permission to use Indian labor in joint enterprises.

Russia, on the other hand, intends to use India as a counterweight to China, which is expanding its presence in the Russian Far East, including by renting agricultural land to grow soy and other crops.

As regards the deforestation caused by illicit logging, of which the timber is then exported to China, Russia is prepared to completely ban timber exports to China unless China’s law enforcement starts taking action to deal with the situation, Russian Minister of Natural Resources Dmitry Kobylkin announced last Thursday.

Russia wants to establish seeding and plantation facilities along the Russian-Chinese border “in order to restore for our children and grandchildren that which the black-market woodcutters have cut down,” Kobylkin commented.

The project would not be exorbitant, costing Russia roughly $30 million and China $60 million, the Russian minister noted.

  India, Russia, China