Modi and Putin emphasized the relevance of continued engagement under IRIGC-TEC for bilateral economic cooperation

India and Russia on Monday appreciated the resumption of the positive trajectory of bilateral trade, with trade registering an increase of about 38% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 despite the pandemic-related restrictions. They positively assessed the overall increase of bilateral trade in 2019-20 compared to the previous year.

As per a joint statement issued by the two sides after the summit-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi, the two countries noted that the bilateral trade does not reflect the potential of strength and depth of India-Russia strategic partnership.

The two leaders stressed on the need for greater efforts to achieve the trade target of USD 30 billion by 2025. In this regard, they placed strong emphasis on new drivers of growth for long-term cooperation, the Joint Statement said.

The two countries underscored the need for commencement of negotiations on the Trade Agreement between India and The Eurasian Economic Union, the Joint Statement added.

Modi and Putin noted the relevance of continued engagement under the India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) for bilateral economic cooperation in various priority areas, the Joint Statement added.

They acknowledged the holding of 12 Working Group and Sub-group meetings under the IRIGC-TEC and instructed the concerned officials to expeditiously conclude meetings of pending Working Groups. The Sides also welcomed the setting up of the new Working Groups and Sub Groups on Transport, Urban Development and Railways and looked forward to the early holding of their inaugural meetings, the Joint Statement added.

The Sides welcomed the holding of the 3rd edition of the India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) on April 15, 2021 in virtual format. They noted the productive discussions under this format in the areas of transport, agriculture, digital transformation, tourism, industry and banking and small and medium enterprises. The Sides considered the need to look at the way forward for the collaboration under this mechanism, maintained the Joint Statement.

The two countries appreciated the outcomes of the visit of Minister of Steel of India to Moscow to attend the Russian Energy Week in October, 2021 and welcomed the progress made in a short span in reviving collaboration in the coking coal and steel sectors. A mutually beneficial MoU for reliable long-term supplies of coal to India for steel production was signed. Discussions were held on production of specialty steel under Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme in India, and utilization of technologies from Russian state steel institutes for steel production in India by private and public sector companies.

As per the Joint Statement, the Indian Side welcomed the interest of the Russian Side in learning from India’s experience of gainful utilization of coal residues. The two sides also welcomed the meeting of the 1st Working Group on Coking Coal in virtual format in October, 2020.

The Leaders welcomed the signing of Agreement of Intent between Indian PSUs and Russian company PhosAgro for supply of fertilizers in the period of 2021/2022 calendar years. They instructed their officials to continue discussions for agreement on long term supply and pricing arrangements, the Joint Statement added.

Trade in pharmaceuticals continues to be one of the main items of India’s exports to Russia. Both Sides noted with satisfaction the continued strength of this commodity as well as Indian companies’ participation in Russia’s localization programme under Pharma 2020 and Pharma 2030 schemes. They recognized the growing collaboration in medical devices as a new promising area of economic engagement in the context of the pandemic.

The two countries appreciated the rapid recovery of collaboration in the diamond sector between the two countries, following the initial downturn witnessed during the pandemic.

India and Russia welcomed the progress on discussions on elimination of trade barriers in respect of critical commodities under the aegis of the Sub-Group on Elimination of the Trade Barriers of IRIGC-TEC.

Both Sides agreed to consider fast-tracking elimination of barriers by way of closing critical gaps in phytosanitary and veterinary requirements of both countries in agricultural and agro-processed products.

The two countries recognised the need to further streamline and fast-track the process of Customs clearances of cargoes. In this regard, the Sides agreed to replace the discussions on the 'Green Corridor Project' with an Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) and a MoU on Exchange of pre-arrival Customs data. The Sides, also, agreed to commence discussions on this Agreement and MoU at the earliest.

As the Joint Statement, the Indian Side encouraged participation of Russian companies in the 13 key sectors of the Production Linked Incentive scheme of the Government of India under the ‘Atmanirbhar’ and ‘Make in India’ programme.

The Indian Side also invited the Russian Side to continue consideration of setting up manufacturing facilities in Greenfield industrial cities under the Industrial Corridor Programme of the Government of India.

India and Russia recognized that the pandemic slowed down progress on certain investment decisions by companies on both Sides. However, both Sides noted with satisfaction that several investment ideas continue to progress, particularly those in inland waterways, railways, shipbuilding and repair, steel and coking coal, medical devices, petrochemicals, ports, banking and re-insurance services, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro processing, healthcare, IT and oil & gas.

According to the Joint Statement, the two countries urged the corresponding Ministries to finalize negotiations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty in a spirit of mutual understanding in order to protect mutual investments. They welcomed the signing of the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property between the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce, India and Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Russian Federation.

India and Russia reiterated their commitment to strengthen inter-bank and insurance corporations. Commercial Indo Bank, Moscow, the only Indian Bank operating in Russia, has upgraded its rating significantly over the last year. Indian Side expressed hope that this will allow the Bank to enter into the retail segment after obtaining necessary approvals. Similarly, GIC Perestrakhovanie LLC, a 100% subsidiary of General Insurance Corporation of India, commenced its operations in September 2020 and is now offering reinsurance support to all major general insurers in the Russian Federation.

The two countries agreed to continue joint work on promoting mutual settlement of payments in national currencies, which will help reduce cost and time as well as risks involved in payments, the Joint Statement maintained.

India and Russia also expressed interest in continuing dialogue on accepting RuPay and MIR Cards within national payment infrastructures, as well as on interaction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and the Faster Payments System of the Bank of Russia (FPS). The Russian Side invited Indian credit institutions to connect to the financial messaging system of the Bank of Russia to facilitate faultless interbank transactions.

The Indian Side invited the Russian Side’s participation in civilian shipbuilding and inland waterways as promising new areas of collaboration. The two leaders welcomed the preparation of a bilateral document in the area of civilian shipbuilding, which will facilitate enhancement of interaction and specialist training, investments in ship building and repair, scientific research, development of intelligent transport and navigation systems, and international transport corridors.

India and Russia welcomed the signing of the Agreement of Intent between Mazagaon Dock Ltd. and Zvezda Shipyard for commercial shipping signed in September this year, the Joint Statement said.