India and Russia are working on firming up a bilateral agreement for the promotion and protection of investments and Moscow is looking at expanding trade ties with New Delhi, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov said on Monday. Addressing an event, Manturov also said that Russia, along with the Eurasian Economic Commission, is looking forward to intensifying negotiations on a free trade agreement with India.
Manturov, who is also Russia's minister for trade and industry, is on a two-day visit to India primarily to attend an inter-governmental meeting on trade, culture and science and technology. In his remarks at the India-Russia Business Dialogue, he also said that Moscow is keen to import manufacturing equipment and products relating to chemical and pharmaceutical industries from India.
"We pay special attention to the issues of mutual access of production to the markets of our countries. Together with the Eurasian Economic Commission, we are looking forward to intensifying negotiations on a free trade agreement with India," he said. "Additionally, we are working on signing a Russia-India bilateral agreement for the promotion and protection of investments," he added.
The bilateral trade volume between India and Russia witnessed a significant upswing in view of New Delhi's increasing procurement of discounted Russian crude oil. "To protect the principles of free trade with our partners, we have undertaken a set of effective measures," the Russian deputy prime minister said.
Manturov said the demand in Russia for road construction materials, manufacturing equipment and pharmaceutical products is rising and that Moscow is adopting policies that would benefit its partner countries to make the supplies. "I am sure this will create opportunities for Indian companies to increase their supplies to Russia," he said. In an apparent reference to the Rupee-Rouble payment mechanism, he said the resolution of the issue could give another impetus for trade and industrial cooperation.
"Within the framework of the intergovernmental dialogue we propose to consider the possibility of the wide use of national currencies and currencies of friendly countries," he said. "We also consider the development of transport and logistics infrastructure as one of the most important tasks," he said.
The Rupee-Rouble mechanism for trade between India and Russia was established to settle dues in rupees instead of US Dollars or Euros in view of the imposition of severe economic sanctions against Moscow by the West following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, there have been certain issues in the full use of the mechanism, according to experts.
Manturov said India could become one of the key partners within the framework of the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor. "Also we believe that it is important to expand direct air connectivity. This is a necessary condition for regular exchange of business delegations, an increase of mutual tourist flow," he said. Manturov said his country has launched a programme for preferential loans and insurance to Russian importers towards procurement of "priority products from foreign countries".