India, Russia negotiating free trade agreement

EAM Dr S Jaishankar said India was in “advance agreement” on the trade deal which the Russian deputy PM said would bring guaranteed investment.

| Updated: 17 April, 2023 4:44 pm IST
Modi and Putin
Before invading Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi in December, 2021.

New Delhi: India and Russia are in talks to finalise a free trade agreement – a move that would further deepen bilateral ties between Moscow and New Delhi in an emerging multipolar world.

Despite Western pressure, India has not criticized President Vladimir Putin’s regime for invading Ukraine in February last year, and has purchased more Russian energy in face of global sanctions.

The development was confirmed by India’s external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar and Russia deputy prime minister Denis Manturov at the India-Russia Business Dialogue in New Delhi on Monday.

Speaking at the event, Manturov – who is also a minister for industry and trade – said Russian intends to develop a comprehensive relationship with India, which is not limited only to trade and cooperation but also covers areas of culture and education.

“We’ve launched the program of preferential loans and insurance of Russian importers towards procurement of priority products from foreign countries. Among the most demanded goods under this program are –components and equipment for road construction, products of chemical and pharmaceutical industries. I am sure that this will create opportunities for Indian companies to increase their supplies to Russia,” Manturov told the gathering of Indian and Russian business figures.

Russia deputy prime minister Denis Manturov speaking to media in New Delhi. (TNI photo by Urvashi Khona)

He further said: “We pay special attention to the issues of mutual access of production to the markets of our countries. Together with Eurasian Economic Commission, we are looking forward to intensifying negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement with India.”

The Russian minister said the two countries are working to sign the Russia-India Bilateral Agreement for the promotion and protection of investments.

He later told media persons that Russia will import more Indian machinery to bridge the trade imbalance with India. “Like China! We have a massive trade with China but it is balanced. We want to balance our trade with India as well,” he told The New Indian.

“We need to find a niche in the products which India can replace. In civilian projects, we need as wide cooperation as it was before the sanctions,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the event.

Dr Jaishankar told the event that both countries were in “advance agreement” on a trade treaty.

A traditional defence equipment supplier, Russia displaced Iraq in March to become India’s top supplier of crude oil. Overall, Indian imports from Russia increased almost fourfold to $46.33 billion in the year to March 31.

Indian companies have not only imported Russian crude for domestic consumption, but have also processed and exported them further to countries in Europe which announced to boycott Russian energy following its invasion of Ukraine.

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