India, Russia discuss trade cooperation

India, Russia discuss trade cooperation

New Delhi: India and Russia are discussing bilateral cooperation in a slew of sectors, ahead of a potential comprehensive economic cooperation pact, that would help make trading easier for a diverse group of Indian industries, including drug makers, tea manufacturers and diamond merchants.

The Indo-Russia working group, comprising of the top trade policy bureaucrats from both sides, has identified specific areas of cooperation in petrochemicals, drugs, rough diamonds, Indian teas and financial sector services.

The suggestions in these areas will form the backbone of the talks between the union commerce minister Kamal Nath and his Russian counterpart and potentially find their way into the proposed comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA).

According to the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics of India, the bilateral trade between India and Russia in 2006-07 was $3.02 billion, an increase of about 10% over 2005-06.

India’s exports for the period stood at $0.91 billion while its imports were $2.11 billion.

The Indo-Russia Joint Study Group, an initial diplomatic discussion group to pave the way for the CECA, has suggested ways to more than treble the trade to $10 billion by 2010.

The Indian side has asked Russia to join in the Indian petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals investment regions—mega complexes to be developed across the coasts for petrochemicals and downstream chemical industries.

Five locations are being considered for these regions: Dahej in Gujarat, Mangalore in Karnataka, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Paradip in Orissa and Haldia in West Bengal.

The Indian representatives have also proposed that the technical and expert organizations in the drugs sector in the two countries enter into mutual recognition agreements, with technical teams from Russia visiting Indian drug makers’ facilities.

This would avoid re-testing of Indian drugs for quality in Russia. India has also offered its expertise in contract drug manufacturing and research, biotech products and bioinformatics. The Russian drug market, pegged at $5 billion, is growing at about 8% every year. In addition, both sides have identified a huge potential in trade of rough diamonds from Russia to India as well as polished diamonds from India.

The Indian side has already drafted an agreement and awaits Russian nod for a joint venture between Russian JSC Alrosa and Indian entities, Minerals and Metals Trading Corp. and Diamond India Ltd.

Export of tea and coffee from India is another area where the representatives have asked Russia to introduce an effective legislation for according protection to such geographical indicators such as Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri teas and the logo Indian tea.