Aiming to boost the India-Russia economic and strategic ties, the two countries today discussed the proposed FTA encompassing Eurasian nations and also the operationalisation of the International North South Transport Corridor that will cut the time and cost for cargo movement.
Commerce and IndustryMinister Nirmala Sitharaman and Russian Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov held a bilateral meeting here before inauguration of the India Engineering Sourcing Show (IESS) with Russia as the Partner Country in the flagship annual event of EEPC India.
"Mr Manturov and I had a meeting today morning. We agreed that there is enormous potential to enhance the bilateral trade which is presently at USD 6.62 billion.We discussed the North-South corridor," Sitharaman said while addressing a press conference here.
"We also deliberated upon other measures to enhance the trade ties including the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the Eurasian Economic Union. Both countries also noted the need to finalise a revised bilateral investment treaty," she added.
FDI from Russia is estimated at USD 1.2 billion till date while Indian investment in Russia is around USD 4.9 billion.
In her inaugural address at the IESS, she said both India and Russiadiscussed the need to finalise a revised Bilateral Investment Treaty. There is tremendous potential for enhancing such investments, she added.
All these measures, including the FTA and work on the ground on several MoUs, would help take the bilateral trade to USD 30 billion by 2025, the minister said.
Though the mutual trade at present is only USD 6.3 billion, the USD 30 billion target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian PresidentVladimir Putinis "absolutely achievable", the Indian minister pointed out, adding that a high-level engagement is possible in June or July this year.
Asked whether countries, other than Russia in Eurasia like Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia andKyrgyzstan are also willing to speed up the talks on the trade-opening pact,the visiting Russian minister said, "We are trying to push the FTA with other countries as well.
The two countries are also pushing for investment with
Russia having already established two funds and another one with USD 500 million for industries of both the countries is in the works, Manturov said.
Likewise, from the Indian side, the National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) would be made use of.
Besides, Russian cooperation is being sought for increasing speed of the Indian Railways on the 575 km route of Nagpur-Secunderabad.
Later addressing the India-Russia Business Forum, Sitharaman said a jointfund of USD 1 billion, equally shared by Russian sovereign fund RDIF and our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, is being set up to promote investments in infrastructure and technology projects.
She said India and Russia are working to operationalise the International North-South Corridor that runs via Iran in view of its huge potential for India's trade with Central Asian countries.
"I had a conversation with the Secretary Department of Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das and I have urged him to send a delegation to Moscow which he has agreed to send in mid-April," Sitharaman said, adding "I am sure with that greater engagement things will look up for both India and Russia."
Similar initiatives in the oil and gas are being implemented with Russian major Rosneft acquiring Essar Oil with investment of USD 12.9 billion.
In the reverse order, a consortium of Indian PSUs like Oil India, Indian Oil Corporation and BPCL, are investing USD 3 billion in the Russian oilfields.
The Russian minister is leading a 120-member high-level delegation to India, participating in the IESS where over 400 exhibitors of high technology products and technologies from 45 countries are participating.
It is for the first time that the IESS is being held outside Mumbai and the Tamil Nadu Government has made a plea to the Commerce Ministry for holding it in the state in future as well.