Russia's turn to scout for business

December 18, 2010 11:20 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 03:24 am IST - NEW DELHI:

After the Americans and the Chinese, it is the turn of the Russians to scout for business during their President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to India from Monday night.

Russia will link the opening of its strategic gas and oil reserves to India to its gaining orders for its extra large turbines and heavy machinery in a departure from its traditional emphasis on armament exports, diplomatic sources said.

Defence deals

While Russia will also be pitching for defence deals, it wants to make a big splash in non-traditional areas of exports, by calling for quid pro quo in considering a stake for ONGC Videsh in the Trebs and Titov fields in north-eastern Russia.

An earlier attempt by the Indian public sector company to partner AFK Sistema's owner Vladimir Yevtushenko was rejected on the grounds that its financial credentials were not good enough to undertake a project of such a magnitude.

Incidentally, Mr. Yevtushenko is co-chairperson of the India-Russia CEOs Forum and considered close to the Kremlin. The initial partnership agreement between the Sistema chief's company Bashneft and ONGC Videsh was struck during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow in December last.

Basically, Russia wants to diversify its exports to India, which have stuck in a groove, and give it a healthy trade surplus. Now Russia largely exports manufactured fertilizers, iron and steel, petroleum crude, non-ferrous metals, transport equipment, coal and newsprint.

As diplomats point out, with Mr. Medvedev scheduled to arrive in a couple of days, top leaders of all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (P-5) would have visited India this year.

All of them, beginning with David Cameron of Britain, had a common wish list: to scout for business opportunities in India. Going by the official briefing, Mr. Medvedev wants to follow suit.

Though trade with Russia has tripled in five years, the target set till the year-end will be missed: it is likely to be $9.8 billion or $200 million against the target of $10 billion. Both countries now hope to double this figure over the next five years.

Fighter aircraft deal

In the defence sector, an agreement for the fifth generation fighter aircraft will be signed; it is said to be worth $295 million for the first phase.

More defence deals are likely to be signed, but they may not be announced owing to strategic reasons.

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