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Business News/ News / World/  India, Russia to grow trade cooperation
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India, Russia to grow trade cooperation

There is disquiet in western countries over India’s continuing purchase of discounted Russian oil

External affairs minister S. Jaishankar with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on his visit to Moscow. ptiPremium
External affairs minister S. Jaishankar with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on his visit to Moscow. pti

NEW DELHI:

India and Russia on Tuesday pledged to expand their trade and economic cooperation, including New Delhi’s oil purchases, even as external affairs minister S. Jaishankar reiterated India’s call for ending the war in Ukraine.

Jaishankar, on his first visit to Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, held talks with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov and co-chaired a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation with Russian deputy prime minister Denis Manturov.

The commitment by the two sides to step up trade and economic engagement came amid continuing disquiet in Western countries over India’s purchase of discounted Russian oil and fertilizers.

From accounting for just 0.2% of all the oil imported by India in the year ending in March 2022, Russia emerged the top supplier in October— with a 22% share of total crude imports— to elbow aside traditional suppliers Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to energy cargo tracker Vortexa. Indian officials, however, say Russia accounts for only about 12% of India’s energy imports.

Addressing a joint news conference with Lavrov after the first round of talks, Jaishankar used his opening remarks to reiterate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to end the war in Ukraine.

Jaishankar said the Ukraine conflict was a “dominant feature" of his discussions with Lavrov.

“As Prime Minister Modi conveyed to President Putin in Samarkand in September, this is not an era of war...We are seeing growing concerns on energy and food security emanate from the conflict that are coming on top of severe stresses created by two years of covid," he said.

Developing countries are “feeling this pain very acutely" and India “strongly advocates a return to dialogue and diplomacy".

Jaishankar added: “We are clearly on the side of peace, respect for international law and support for the UN Charter."

Describing the India-Russia relationship as substantial and time-tested, Jaishankar said Tuesday’s meetings focused on areas with “natural convergence of interests", adding, “And when we do so, we not only serve our national interest, we...as major G20 economies...are actually helping to stabilize the world economy as well."

The Indian foreign minister pointed to “significant growth" in bilateral trade this year and said the two ministers focused on making it more sustainable.

However, he said India is “naturally concerned" at the trade imbalance and raised “impediments that stand in the way of greater Indian exports".

Lavrov noted the “positive dynamics of bilateral trade", which had grown by more than 130% in September when compared to the past year and almost touched $17 billion.

He said the two sides are confident the goal to increase bilateral trade to $30 billion “will soon be achieved".

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Published: 08 Nov 2022, 11:35 PM IST
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