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Russia seeks to diversify trade ties

Special Correspondent

Envoy sees bright prospects in southern India, which is rich in resources

— Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

PROMOTING TRADE: Vladislav V. Antonyuk, Consul-General of the Russian Federation in Southern India; S. Vijayakumar Bafna, president, Hindustan Chamber of Commerce; and Umesh M. Pujaria, president-elect of the chamber, at a meeting in Chennai on Friday.

CHENNAI: Russia is seeking to diversify its trade relations beyond the technical and the military, and it sees bright prospects in South India, Vladislav V. Antonyuk, Consul- General of the Russian Federation in Southern India said on Friday.

The advantage of South India, he said, was the availability of land and mineral resources, such as titanium. But its major drawback was the lack of infrastructure, especially water and power. “We are ready to assist India in settling the infrastructure problem through desalination,” he said, addressing members of the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce.

Laying out areas for investment, he said Russia had invested $250 million in a titanium project in Orissa and would extend $200 million to build capacity in a heavy-duty bearing plant in Hyderabad.

Investment conglomerate Systema, having acquired a stake in Shyam Telecom last year, was ready to invest up to $7billion in the next two years for modernisation of mobile services.

Gazprom’s subsidiary Transgas invested in 26 blocks of the strategic gas pipeline between Vijayawada and Ahmedabad. Rosneft was ready to invest in the refining industry, and financial allocations would to the ONGC project in Mangalore.

Products such as tea and coffee, Mr. Anthonyuk said, could be exported to Russia along with tobacco and spices, if they met the high standards of sanitation.

Interest in tourism

Responding to questions from members of the chamber, he said there was an interest in tourism, particularly in health tourism and building hotel chains.

While he did not foresee any change in importing pharmaceutical products because of the investments made by Russian industry and India’s production of certain medicines banned in Russia, he did see a significant potential for cooperation in biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Cooperation in information technology could be one of the strongest programmes between the two nations, he said. Russia could fill the gap in the number of engineers needed to fulfil India’s entrepreneurial aspirations. Further, the combination of India’s practical programming and Russia’s system programming capabilities could result in the exchange of semi-products to bring a full product to market.

“We are naturally close in trends and in economic stages of development,” he said. “By 2015, Russia and India will be among the five leading countries in terms of GDP,” he said, “let us talk on that.”

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