Aiming to make the country a diamond hub, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday invited Russian mining companies like Alrosa to do business directly with India and asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to ease regulations to boost bilateral trade in this sector.
To expand manufacturing sector and create more jobs, Modi asked Putin to ease regulations and encourage Russian jewellers to process rough diamonds in India and allow duty-free reimport of the polished diamonds.
Russia is the world's largest diamond producer, while India is the world's biggest centre for cutting and polishing of rough diamonds. India exports cut and polished diamonds worth USD 20 billion in a year.
Inaugurating the World Diamond Conference jointly with Putin here, Modi said: "I have made three proposals to President Putin. First, I would like Alrosa to have direct long-term contracts with more Indian companies. I am pleased to know that they are moving in that direction."
Alrosa, the Russian Group of diamond mining firms, today signed separate contracts with 12 Indian companies to supply diamonds worth USD 2.1 billion over the next three years.
"While most of rough diamonds from Russia come to India, less than 20 per cent come directly to India. I want major diamond mining companies to sell directly to Indian diamond industry. It will be good for them and for India," he said.
Stating that India has the world's largest diamond exchange, Modi called upon Russian companies to trade directly on the Indian bourse.
"We have decided to create a Special Notified Zone, in which major mining companies can import rough diamonds on a consignment basis and re-export unsold ones. This is going to benefit the Indian diamond industry and create more jobs for our youth," he said.
These measures will not only give a boost Indian diamond industry but also strengthen India-Russia economic ties, the Prime Minister said.
Assuring Russian delegates of productive business climate in India, Modi said, "You will find an environment that is welcoming and responsive."
Addressing the conference, Putin said that India should create "favourable" business climate for diamond trade and sought reforms in customs procedures.
"We would like to work jointly and efficiently (with India), he added.