Russia to intensify negotiations for free trade deal with India
New Delhi, Apr 17 (EFE).- Russia is planning to intensify negotiations for a free trade agreement with India even as both countries seek greater cooperation, Russian industry and commerce minister Denis Manturov said in Delhi on Monday, less than a week after the first India visit of a high-ranking Ukranian official since the beginning of the war.
“Particular importance was attached to the issues of mutual access of products to the markets of both countries. Together with the Eurasian Economic Commission, it is planned to intensify negotiations with India to conclude a free trade agreement,” the Russian embassy said in a statement after Manturov met Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
In a speech during the India-Russia business dialog, Jaishankar expressed hope that talks between the two sides would resume even as they studied how to expand and diversify bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Jaishankar acknowledged that India was heavily dependent on Russian military imports, and highlighted possibilities in sectors such as automobiles and electronic goods, along with agriculture.
New Delhi has maintained a neutral stance despite the West’s calls to oppose Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and distance itself from Russia.
The bilateral trade between India and Russia during the year ending March 2023 amounted to $45 billion.
Jaishankar expressed concern over the unequal trade balance between the two countries, as New Delhi’s imports of Russian oil have surged due to generous discounts offered by Moscow since the Ukraine war.
The surge has produced difficulties for the system of India paying Russia in Rupees, established after the United States and other countries imposed sanctions against Russia over the conflict.
Jaishankar said the payment issue needed to be resolved between the two systems.
“Our partnership today is a subject of attention and comment, not because it has changed but because it hasn’t,” the minister said, adding that this was a time-tested relationship.
The statements come less than a week after Ukraine’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Emine Dzhaparova, landed in Delhi for the first high-level Ukrainian visit to India since the conflict began.
Dzhaparova urged India to resume bilateral ties and distance itself from Russia. EFE