New Delhi: Russia is considering a formal Indian request to expand the list of Indian suppliers for buffalo meat, seafood and other livestock products amid ongoing talks to open mutual access for agricultural products, Russian trade commissioner Alexander Rybas said.
The two countries, Rybas said in an email interview, are also discussing the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) to serve as an alternative transportation route for goods to Asian markets. Edited excerpts:
What are the plans for boosting agri trade?
Russia and India have been conducting long-term negotiations on the mutual opening of access to crop and animal husbandry products. There is some progress here. In January 2023, regulatory authorities of the two countries agreed on veterinary certificates for the export of sheep wool, leather raw materials and animal feed from Russia to India.
This year, we plan to open mutual access for a number of agricultural products. Currently, Russia is considering India’s application to expand the list of Indian suppliers of buffalo meat, seafood and aquaculture, as well as other livestock products. In addition, negotiations are underway between major Russian importers and Indian producers of tropical canned fruit (mango, pineapple, avocado, etc.).
India and the Eurasian Economic Union planned to resume talks on an FTA. What has been the progress?
The Union is ready to resume negotiations with India on concluding a free trade agreement. Currently, it is difficult to make any forecasts on the timing of the conclusion of the agreement, but even now we see and understand the significant benefits of concluding a free trade agreement for both the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and India, including in terms of the possible implementation of future joint projects. Businesses of the Union countries also actively support the transition to preferential treatment.
Are India and Russia exploring the possibility of creating a new sea corridor similar to the Northern Sea Route?
The Indian side expressed interest in participating in the project for the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). In fact, this is a continuation of the Chennai-Vladivostok sea route, and the NSR may become an alternative way of delivering goods to Asian markets in the future. Already, in the context of the rapid growth of cargo traffic (in 2021, cargo traffic amounted to 34.9 million tons, and by 2024 it is planned to reach the figure of 80 million tons), the Indian side has requested from the Russian side an assessment of the current economic feasibility in terms of transport costs compared to alternative transport routes and long-term prospects for the development of the NSR, including the possible participation of India in specific projects. Moreover, in May 2023, an Indian delegation visited the ports of Vladivostok, Vostochny, Nakhodka and Kozmino, which contributed to understanding the requirements for the full-scale commissioning of the Eastern Sea Corridor. In general, it should be noted that India has a special interest in the Russian Far East. The area, a vast territory designed to become Russia’s calling card in Asia, is open to Indian business and, as expected, should become one of the platforms for deepening economic partnership between the two countries.
What are the engineering goods Russia is looking to import from India?
The Russian industry is confidently following the path of import substitution, which has intensified after many Western companies left our market. This process requires some time, which provides good opportunities for further increasing Indian imports, as well as investments.
Russia has formed a significant competence in the infrastructure of roads and railways, ports and airports and is ready to offer the necessary technologies, equipment and experience to help India implement its infrastructure project.
(Ravi Dutta Mishra contributed to the story)
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