20:25 GMT02 July 2020
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    Trade and commerce ministers from India and Russia discussed a host of bilateral issues including the Free Trade Agreement and the International North-South Transport Corridor.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — India's commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said bilateral trade ties with Russia will gain momentum to achieve the $30 billion target by 2025 set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Sitharaman met the visiting Russian Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov in a bilateral meeting in Chennai. Later, she inaugurated the Indian Engineering Sourcing Show (IESS) with Russia as the partner country in the annual Engineering Export Promotion Council of India event.

    The two ministers also discussed the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) encompassing Eurasian nations as well as the operationalization of the International North-South Transport Corridor.

    "In our meeting, Mr. Manturov and I agreed that there is enormous potential to enhance the bilateral trade which is presently at US$ 6.62 billion. We discussed the North-South corridor. We also deliberated upon other measures to enhance the trade ties including the proposed Free Trade Agreement between India and the Eurasian Economic Union. Both countries also noted the need to finalize a revised bilateral investment treaty," Sitharaman said at a press conference.

    Currently, Russian investments in India are estimated at US$1.2 billion, while Indian investments in Russia stand around US$ 4.9 billion.

    "In the last couple of years, the business side has shown signs that there is a lot of untapped potential everyone is keen to exploit. There are mutual investments and treaties which are mutually advantageous. Rosneft has invested in Jamnagar refinery, while India has made some investments in oil fields. All this adds to the overall economic ties. But in the long term, a major jump in trade ties will depend on how fast the North-South Transport Corridor and FTA are operationalized," Nandan Unnikrishnan, Senior Fellow and Vice-President at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, told Sputnik.

    "But, we also must understand that leaders can't make people trade or carry out commercial transactions. Trade, like electricity, flows towards the direction with least resistance. What both countries need to identify and open up are the sectors where people want to trade," he said.


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