Prabhu bats for govt-level agreement for more diamond imports from Russia

Suresh Prabhu

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday called for a government-level agreement with Russia for diamond imports in a manner that does not adversely impact the balance of payment of India.

He said that India is the hub for cutting and polishing of diamonds and Russia has huge diamond reserves.

"If we can work out a government-to-government agreement in which we a manner that does not adversely impact balance of payment and we will meet our demand. (In this way) Russian exports will increase to India and we import it, process it and re-export that, and both get benefitted," he said.

He was speaking at the India-Russia Business Summit, organised by industry body CII.

The minister said that there were huge opportunities in both the countries to increase trade and investments.

As Russia wants to export timber to India, both the countries can work out a mechanism for it, Prabhu said.

Further to facilitate Russian investments in India, the minister said that a single window system has been worked out under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ramesh Abhishek, to handhold companies.

"Through this mechanism, we will ensure that you (Russian companies) talk to only one ministry and all your issues will be resolved at one place," he added.

He also said that India will create a space in the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor for Russian firms.

Talking about the proposed free-trade agreement between India and Eurasia, he said that a team will be coming to India in January next year for the talks.

Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said Russia was preparing a strategy to increase economic cooperation with India.

He said that the country was looking at investment protection and avoidance of double taxation agreement with India besides trade in national currencies.

DIPP Secretary Abhishek said that there was a huge opportunity for Russian companies to invest in India as the government had taken several reform measures.

He said that foreign direct investment had increased to $222 billion in the last four years as compared to $152 billion in the previous four years.

To promote trade, India wants Russia to explore opportunities for diamond trade here and use of national currencies for trade purposes in areas like pharmaceuticals, textiles, agricultural commodities and machinery and engineering products.

According to government data, the bilateral trade between the countries increased to $7.5 billion in 2016-17 from $6.2 billion in the previous fiscal. But the trade is in the favour of Russia.

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