Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Nov 20, 2004
Industry & Economy
Joint study group mooted for India-Russia trade pact
New Delhi , Nov. 19
FOLLOWING a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement India and Singapore signed, New Delhi has proposed the setting up of a joint study group on a similarpact with the Russian Federation too with a view to boosting bilateral trade and economic relations on a more enduring basis.
The Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr Kamal Nath, indicated this to the visiting Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Mr Alexander D. Zhukov, here at a meeting with the Russian delegation.
Mr Nath also called for measures to reverse the declining trend in the volume of trade between the two countries and urged Russia to step up its imports of tea, tobacco and manufactured goods from India.
Mr Zhukov suggested the establishment of joint ventures in Russia based on tobacco sourced from India.
Mr Zhukov, who is in India ahead of the forthcoming visit of the Russian President, Mr Putin, said that Russia hoped to become a member of the World Trade Organisation by 2005 and would be keen to cooperate with India in the WTO.
During the discussions, Mr Nath flagged the issues pertaining to the high duty differential on import of bulk and packaged tea, which discouraged export of quality package tea to Russia and the grant of geographical indication (GI) status for Darjeeling tea.
The differential duty structure was meant to be temporary and, hence, India has been seeking its revocation. The issue of GI for Darjeeling tea is being pursued with the Russia side during the ongoing negotiations for their accession to the WTO.
Mr Nath also conveyed India's concern over dwindling tobacco exports to Russia, especially since Russia had traditionally been the single largest overseas market for Indian tobacco.
The potential for cooperation in diamonds was also discussed, as India remains by far, the largest processing centre for rough diamonds, while Russia is one of the world's largest producers of rough diamond.
The Russian side voiced concern over anti-dumping investigations in India against certain goods of Russian origin and Mr Nath allayed the apprehensions expressed by Mr Zhukov by stating that the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping (DGAD) had initiated no anti-dumping investigations involving Russia since November 2003.
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