New Delhi: India will push for greater market access for its pharmaceutical products and beef in Russian market after the Russian Customs Union lifted a ban on Indian non-basmati rice and oilseeds.
Trade minister Anand Sharma raised the issue with his counterpart Denis Manturov at the 7th India Russia forum on Trade and Investment at Moscow on Thursday, according to a commerce ministry official.
Earlier this month, commerce secretary S.R. Rao told reporters that India hopes to make significant gains in the Russian market with the country lifting the bans.
India is looking to expand exports to newer markets to curb a bloated trade and current account deficit. The Russian Federation had imposed the ban eight months ago due to the presence of khapra beetles pest in rice and aflatoxin contamination of peanuts.
Sharma is also expected to ask Manturov to send a delegation of the Russian veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance agency to India which could visit government-approved labs to facilitate export of bovine meat and egg powder.
In view of stricter animal health norms insisted upon by Russia, India has not been able to export bovine meat and egg products to that country.
“India’s track record of over 40 years in the export of boneless buffalo meat to over 60 countries worldwide is unblemished, without a single incidence of livestock related disease outbreak,” a commerce ministry official said.
India insists that its egg powder meets the customs union requirements and has invited Russian authorities to enter an arrangement with its Export Inspection Council, but without any response.
During the recently held India-Russia working group on Trade and Economic Cooperation earlier this month, the Russian side said that market access can be granted if the Indian products meet the requirements and norms of the Customs Union.
The pharmaceutical industry is facing barriers in the trade of pharmaceutical products to Russia.
The lack of specified time periods for implementation of new variation, registration and confirmation leads to avoidable delay in supplies, commencement of production and launch of new products in the market.
Sharma will also seek cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development, aviation, power generation, shipbuilding, energy, bio and nano-technologies, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals & chemicals, agricultural and food items, automobile industry and diamond.
India’s exports to Russia picked up 29.1% to $2.3 billion in 2012-13. During the first quarter of the financial year (April-June), exports stood at $528.54 million. India is currently exploring the possibility of a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with the Customs Union, which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
Kyrgyzstan is keen to join the grouping and is expected to be granted observer status.
Ram Upendra Das, senior fellow at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries said, “Our trade relation with the countries which were part of the Soviet Union has been minimal. Per capita income of these countries are quite high and they offer significant opportunities including for India’s energy security.”
India is trying to persuade Iran to build the 165km rail link between Rasht, Iran, and Astara, Azerbaijan, a connection that will help India get market access to the landlocked Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russia.