New Delhi: India and Russia are exploring the option of trading in their local currencies and looking at signing agreements on investment protection and avoidance of double taxation, Russia’s minister for economic development Maxim Oreshkin said on Friday.

The commerce ministry is considering the feasibility of a renminbi-rupee trade with China in order to tackle the sharp fall in the Indian currency and a widening trade deficit, Mint reported on Friday.

The commerce ministry is also consulting the Reserve Bank of India and the finance ministry to finalise arrangements with countries such as Russia for imports on deferred payment for oil imports or increasing barter possibilities for balanced trade involving diamond to help stabilise the depreciating rupee.

India bought crude oil worth $1.2 billion and diamonds worth $3.5 billion from Russia in 2017-18, while it exported mostly tea, coffee, spices, pharmaceutical products, organic chemicals and machinery items during the year. Both sides have set the target of increasing bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025 from $10.7 billion in 217-18. India has an annual trade deficit of $6.5 billion with Russia.

Speaking at the India-Russia Business Summit, Oreshkin said Russia was preparing a strategy to increase economic cooperation with India.

India also agreed to set up a fast track, single-window mechanism for quicker clearance of Russian investments in India, Russia+, in line with similar facilities available for Japan and South Korea.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech said both sides have identified four key sectors, including energy, digital economy, startups and infrastructure, for joint collaborations.

Both sides called for the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) through intensified efforts by finalising pending issues related to Customs authorities, development of road and rail infrastructure and financial facilitation through bilateral discussions as well as discussions with other partner countries at the earliest.

Commerce minister Suresh Prabhu said the signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU), consultations for which had begun, was likely to create a huge market that would benefit all countries of the region and also promote inter-regional partnerships between the states of India and the regions of Russia.

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