With bilateral trade extremely low, India and Russia have initiated steps to remove the hindrances and boost commerce by signing an agreement in the area of customs and moving to liberalise business visas.
The bilateral trade during the last year was just USD 9.51 billion and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed ways to increase it when they met in Ufa on July 8.
The two countries have fixed a target of USD 30 billion to be achieved by 2025.
“The fact that trade and investment is not upto expectations was widely accepted by the leaders of the two countries,” Indian Ambassador to Russia P S Raghavan told in Moscow while referring to the Ufa meeting.
He said the trade has remained low because of various factors, like inadequate connectivity, language barriers, visa barriers and regulations.
“Distances are long. Shipping route at present is far too long and expensive. There is no land connectivity because of political reasons and security considerations,” he said.
While talking about the barriers, Raghavan said, “We are working to clear each of them… We have made progress… We are systematically working to expand trade.”
He said the proposed North-South freight corridor, on which India and Russia are working together, will help in reducing the distance and expenses by almost half.
“With Russia, we are working on opening up of North South Corridor, for trade from India to Russia to central Asia through Iran. We made some progress with all stakeholders in this. It will reduce freight by roughly half, reduce time by roughly half and make Indian goods competitive,” he said.
Among other steps being taken to address the non-tariff barriers, the Ambassador said, was an agreement reached very recently on customs which provides for rapid clearances of imported goods at the land and sea ports.
“We will identify entities to be covered under this. It will significantly address one of the non-tariff barriers,” he said.
With regard to visas, which are encountering problems from the Russian side, the two countries are also “close” to an agreement on further liberalisation. “Hope that will take place in the near future,” Raghavan said.