Special Correspondent

Russian President Putin calls for closer economic ties

  • Putin wants $10 b bilateral trade by 2010
  • FICCI highlights potential areas of cooperation

    NEW DELHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday favoured deeper engagement between his country and India not only to consolidate economic ties between the two countries but also explore newer areas of cooperation to further boost bilateral trade.

    Addressing a business meeting attended by captains of industry from both countries, Mr. Putin referred to the agreements reached between the two sides, boosting cooperation in the area of nuclear energy, and said the trade between the two countries should grow at a faster pace of 30 per cent as against the current level of 20 per cent to realise the goal of $10 billion by 2010.

    Mr. Putin indicated that his government was favourably disposed towards financing of investments by Russian companies in India by utilising the money under the rupee-rouble debt agreement.

    Detailed discussions in this context would open new vistas of cooperation by using the funds available under the agreement.

    He said there were promising prospects for cooperation in enhancing India's nuclear plant capacity and expressed the interest of the Russian side in expanding cooperation in oil exploration, production and supplies. Acknowledging that efforts to increase the volume of trade were deterred by high transportation cost, Mr. Putin said these could be sorted out through mutual discussions.

    FICCI President Habil Khorakiwala pointed out that there was potential for cooperation in high technology areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, metallurgy, aviation and manufacture of aviation-related equipment. Apart from deepening bilateral engagement in civilian nuclear technology, the energy sector afforded a real opportunity to Indian and Russian companies to forge joint ventures in offshore oil exploration and investment in the downstream sector in home countries as well as third countries.

    C. S. Rao, Chairman, telecom and convergence council, Assocham, said there was scope for fruitful cooperation between the two countries in infrastructure building in India.

    Russia, he said, had proven expertise and experience in power generation, road construction and railways and India could profit from its experience and technology.

    He called for relaxation of the visa regime for business travel to Russia and opening of more bank branches in both countries.