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India and Russia to give shape to joint 'economic vision' package

Thursday, 06 November 2014 08:31

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin held brainstorming session to finalise the joint “economic vision” package, sources indicated.

NEW DELHI: India and Russia, hoping to boost their trade and economic ties that remain below potential, despite decades-old strong political ties, today gave shape to joint "economic vision" package including possibility of joining a Customs Union in Eurasian region and increasing trade via Iran that will be unveiled when President Vladimir Putin visits India in December second week.

On his maiden visit to India for the annual summit since Modi became the Prime Minister, Putin is expected to announce an economic vision that would cover areas of energy and regional economic cooperation besides increased Russian investments in India among other issues, government sources said. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin held brainstorming session to finalise the joint "economic vision" package, sources indicated.

This was Rogozin's second visit to India in five months since the BJP-led NDA government came to power. The two leaders met for the 20th India-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC).

Swaraj and Rogzin decided to set a Joint Study Group for the proposed agreement between India and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation for trade in goods and services. Besides they also decided to increase bilateral trade through the International North South Corridor Project (INSTC) that runs through Iran particularly in agriculture and food processing industry.

It was also decided to maintain the momentum of cooperation in some priority areas such as hydrocarbons, coking coal, fertilizers, mining, civil aviation, infrastructure and trade in rough diamonds, according to the MEA statement.

Following Western sanctions, Russia has been looking eastwards to invest including expanding its economic footprints in India, an old ally. The vision of both countries is to move beyond defence trade, a source remarked. The two countries earlier held a meeting of Working Group on Priority Investment Projects last week.

Sources well-versed with the developments said that both Putin and Modi are eager to present deliverables from the summit meeting in December and are keen to announce important breakthroughs. As part of this Russia could act as a payment intermediary for oil trade between India and Iran.

In fact energy would be emerging as the main pillar of economic partnership with Putin expected to offer more stakes in oil fields to Indian firms and discussing proposal for oil pipelines from Russia to India. Moscow and Delhi could also collaborate to harness energy resources from Central Asia, sources hinted.

Last week, Alexey Likhachev, Russia's Deputy Minister of Economic Development said that Moscow was keen to participate in Modi's 'Make in India' initiative. He also expressed Sistema's interest in the 'smart cities' concept and mentioned Russia's concrete proposals for the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

Modi is no stranger to Russia having visited the country thrice as Gujarat Chief Minister. Russia was one of his destinations when the doors in the West were closed for him. During the first meeting between Modi and Putin in Brazil last July, the PM went on to say that Russia was like his second home and that every child in India knows that Russia is Delhi's best friend.

The significance of Russia to Modi was once again evident when he told Rogozin today that India attaches "very high importance to the time-tested and the special and privileged Strategic Partnership with Russia".

By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau | 5 Nov, 2014

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