India, on Monday, agreed to initiate an exercise for a free trade agreement with the customs union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia to enhance economic ties.

“Both sides agreed to work towards the creation of a Joint Study Group for studying the possibility of signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between India and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia,” a joint statement said.

The joint statement was issued after the 14th India-Russia annual summit meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin here.

The Customs Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus had formally came into existence few years ago.

The three countries took their economic integration to a new level with the implementation of the common economic space, which provides for free movement of goods, services and people.

Under the CECA, two sides aims to significantly reduce duties on the maximum number of tradable goods besides liberalising norms for service and investments. It also aims at facilitating movement of professionals.

The statement also said that both sides welcomed the increasing business interactions

Further, India and Russia underlined the significant potential for cooperation in sectors such as oil and gas, pharmaceutical, infrastructure, mining, automobiles, fertilizers, aviation, as well as in modernisation of industrial facilities located in the two countries.

The bilateral trade between India and Russia stood at $6.52 billion in 2012-13. — PTI