Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003
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India & World
By Vladimir Radyuhin
"India and Russia are strategic partners with a dynamic political agenda and strong defence ties, so the main task today is to give a powerful impulse to our economic cooperation which still falls far short of its potential," the First Deputy Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, said in the run-up to the Indo-Russian summit talks in Moscow on Wednesday.
With Russia transiting from a centralised to market economy, and India making great economic strides in recent years, both sides should take a fresh look at their trade and economic links to identify new opportunities, the Russian Minister said.
One such opportunity was investment in each other's economies, as had been showcased by ONGC-Videsh's $1.7-billion involvement in Russia's Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project and the construction of two Russian nuclear reactors at Koodankulam. "There is also great scope for collaboration in science-intensive technologies," Mr. Trubnikov said.
Indo-Russian trade has stagnated at about $1.5 billion in recent years, and fears have been voiced that it may fall even lower after India completes repaying the bulk of old Soviet rupee debts to Russia next year. Over the past 10 years rupee debt funds helped finance more than 80 per cent of Indian exports to Russia.
However, Mr. Trubnikov does not share these concerns.
"The sooner we switch from rupees to dollars in our trade, the better," he said. "This would give a strong fillip to our ties."
What was needed today, was "aggressive advertising" to whet the appetite of Indian and Russian businessmen for market opportunities in our countries, the Minister said.
The FICCI president, A.C. Muthiah, who is in Moscow at the head of a 40-men business delegation, the biggest the FICCI has ever brought here, said his interactions with Russian businessmen encouraged him to predict a threefold growth in Indo-Russian trade to $5 billion in two-three years.
Jointly with the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, FICCI has identified promising areas of bilateral cooperation, which include petrochemicals, food and other farm products processing, pharmaceuticals, textiles, paper and pulp, diamonds, as well as IT and biotechnology.
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