MOSCOW, October 4 (Itar-Tass) - A two-day session of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation currently under way in the Russian capital "will sign a final protocol today to highlight main spheres of future cooperation in all fields and branches,” Evgeny Popov, Asia and Africa department director at the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, told journalists.
Reviewing the assembly's agenda, co-chaired by Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Popov noted this as reflecting the extent of Indo-Russian cooperation. Progress had been made by joint working groups on issues including trade and economy, energy, science and technology.
He assessed the energy sector as one with the greatest potential for cooperation. Conclusion of long-term purchase agreements for liquefied natural gas signed by Indian and Russian energy companies alongside India’s possible participation in the northwest Siberian Yamal project showed synergies could be be achieved in the energy sector.
Popov said that by the end of 2012, trade between the two countries had reached a historical high of 11 billion dollars, which “obviously does not correspond to the level of strategic relations between Russia and India.” By comparison, last year’s trade with China had reached 85 billion dollars, with Japan it was 30 billion dollars and around 20 billion dollars with South Korea. “Turnover figures are not the maximum for the Indo-Russian market. The main task of the commission is to find new prospects for growth,” Popov added.
Machinery and technical goods accounted for most Russian exports, the director said. Indian imports were mainly represented by pharmaceutical products, which made up about 25 percent of goods imported from India to Russia.
Popov said India wanted to start negotiations with the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia over a free trade zone. “To launch these talks, all members of the customs union should express their willingness,” he said, noting that Russia supported this proposal. This kind of agreement could lead to higher imports from India, Popov said.