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India can be a strong partner to Russia in many sectors: Sergey Cheryomin

NewsIndia can be a strong partner to Russia in many sectors: Sergey Cheryomin

Top Russian official identifies retail, production of clothes, fertilisers, micro-electronics, and aerospace as sectors for partnership.

Sergey Cheryomin, Minister, Government of Moscow; Head of the Department for External Economic and International Relations of Moscow; Chairman of the Board, Business Council for Cooperation with India, talked to The Sunday Guardian on a host of issues. Excerpts:

Q: How do you assess the economic relations between India and Russia?
We have very good ties with India and relationship and stable growth in trade. If you look at the statistics, we could hardly dream of such figures just few years ago. The forecast was not more than USD 25 billion in 2025. Now we are having USD 30 billion. We are seeing continuous growth in trade, especially the growth of investments in various areas. We have great platforms to build our ties, like the BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and Eurasian Union. India is conducting negotiations for a long time and we hope that India could be a partner of the countries which are already in the Eurasian Union. This will give access to a huge market. So we are quite optimistic.

Q: What is the progress on the Rupee-Rouble trade?
We have spoken for a long time about the necessity for pushing forward the Rouble-Rupee trade and transactions between our companies. Unfortunately, to my mind we lost a lot of time. Nowadays we have some problems for cross border transactions for the possibility to convert rupee into other currencies according to the quite strict regulations of the Reserve Bank of India. We hope that this issue could be solved in the coming future.
We also badly need the payment systems of both countries to be effective to boost tourist exchanges between our countries. There are more and more banks that are opening Vostro accounts in Indian banks. As for today we have more than 10 accounts but sometimes they are not very active because of the compliance from Indian banks and there are delays in transactions. That is an area we have to concentrate on.

Q: Which are the potential areas to expand trade?
In my mind, it could be the pharma industry, the IT technologies, could be solutions for municipal needs like smart cities and safe cities, some intellectual solutions for management of transport, digitalisation of healthcare, education. To my mind we have great potential as Brics countries also. We represent more than 30 per cent of the world GDP as BRICS economies. As forecast, we expect it to be nearly 50% in a decade. That shows the importance of cooperation between BRICS countries, especially in the financial area maybe even the introduction of BRICS country currency. I know that there is some idea about that but it depends on the position of the Central banks.
Q: As we are aware, many companies which have left Russia. Where all do you expect India can fit in?
India can be a very strong and long term partner in retail, fashion, production of clothes, micro-electronics, software, different IT technologies, automotive industry and aerospace. We are well known in aerospace industry, and we have good relationship with India in this sector. India-Russia should together develop advanced technology that is non-aligned, sustainable and independent of external actors. There is also opportunity in construction of ships, especially tankers. You have lots of ports and lots of experience of building ships. Another area is production of fertilisers.

Q: Is there any progress on the North South Transit Corridor?
As a lot of sanctions are imposed on Russian companies who provide logistics for different commodities, I think that nowadays the North South Transit Corridor is one of the most important logistic project not only between two countries but between all countries engaged in this. It is not an alternative for the Silk Route but it could facilitate dramatically the traffic of goods from India to Russia or from countries of the Indian Ocean to Russian federation, transit to Europe or to parts of the Russian Federation. It is really important to overcome all the bureaucratic obstacles nowadays to improve the infrastructure, to build some railway, especially in Iran to launch the project.

Q: Apart from our oil trade, what is the status of Russia-India energy ties?
We have a very good example of cooperation in this area that has lasted for many years and that is in Sakhalin. Russia nowadays is making exploration in the far and north and offshore deposits. I think that there is huge potential for Indian companies to participate in those projects because a lot of western companies have withdrawn from these opportunities. In my mind ONGC or ONGC Videsh could be partner in these projects.

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