India has sought the Russian Government’s intervention in opening a dialogue with the member-states of the Customs Union— Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus— for the possibility of entering into a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). On his return from a week-long visit to Geneva, Moscow, Berlin and Brussels, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India and Russia must make efforts to give a strong fillip to trade turnover.

Joint Study Group

“We are looking at a proposal for setting up a Joint Study Group (JSG) to study the scope of a CECA with the member-countries of the Customs Union. We have sought Russia’s facilitation in opening a direct dialogue with Customs Union to make further headway. I have already met the Chairman of the Board of Eurasian Economic Commission (ECC), Viktor Khristenko. We are going to take this forward in a concrete manner,” he told this correspondent.

Mr. Sharma said the matter of constituting a JSG had been deliberated at various bilateral meetings held in the past with the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

The Commerce Ministry has initiated discussions with ECC for moving forward with the proposal of CECA with the Customs Union.

Preliminary discussions

During his meeting with Mr. Khristenko, it was decided that India and the Customs Union Secretariat would initiate preliminary discussions for setting up of a JSG, including terms of reference, composition and time frame for submission of the JSG report.

“These are likely to be given a final shape during my visit to St. Petersburg for the International Economic Forum meeting in June. Russia’s support in this aspect will be crucial,” he said.

The move for having a direct dialogue with the Customs Union has also got the support of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Sharma said he also had impressed upon the Russian Government the need to expedite comments/signing of draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) to fast-track registration of Indian pharmaceutical products in Russia.

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