Indian business delegation to visit Russia to explore agri exports


New Delhi (Reuters) – An Indian business delegation will visit Russia on April 24-27, the Indian exporters’ body said on Friday, a fresh sign of expanding bilateral trade ties as Moscow increasingly turns east in response to Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine war.

The announcement follows a visit by Russian trade and industry minister Denis Manturov to Delhi earlier this week which included discussions on the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) in the near future.

“The 50-member delegation would meet buyers in Moscow and St Petersburg,” said A. Sakthivel, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), adding they were aiming to expand Indian exports to Russia to $5 billion in the current financial year that started this month.

The exporters expect to sign deals for selling a wide range of products including tea, sugar, coffee, dairy, meat, and marine products, the official said.

Moscow earlier sent a list of more than 500 products for potential delivery including parts for cars, aircraft, and trains as the Western sanctions squeeze Russia’s ability to keep vital industries running.

India has not explicitly condemned Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and has called for dialogue to resolve the conflict.

India’s imports from Russia more than quadrupled to $46.33 billion over the last fiscal year, mainly through oil, while exports declined nearly 12% year-on-year to $2.8 billion for the 11 months ending in February.

Exporters said sales to Russia had declined mainly due to payment difficulties as both countries are still trying to work out a trade settlement mechanism in local currencies.

“Very soon we can expect this mechanism to be operational,” the exporters’ body said in a note to its members, adding the government’s fiscal incentives on exports would be extended to exports to Russia as well under the rupee-rouble mechanism.

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