India and Russia are setting a target for $30 billion in bilateral trade by 2025 and the two countries are working towards developing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to facilitate that target, a Russian diplomat said here on Monday.
“India and Russia have set a bilateral trade target of $30 billion by 2025. This includes the sales of defence equipment, civil nuclear energy apart from other commodities,” Russian Consul General in Kolkata Alexey M. Idamkin said at a session on the current and future perspectives of Russia-India relations at the Bharat Chamber of Commerce here.
“That bilateral trade volume, that saw some decline till 2016, has witnessed a steady growth in 2017 and exceeded the mark of $8 billion which is 21 per cent higher than the previous year,” he said.
Referring to the geographical factor that has been a principal hurdle in developing the trade relationship between the two countries in spite of their long-standing diplomatic relationship, he said that the International North-South Transport Corridor, a multi-modal network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia and certain European countries has a chance of starting within the next couple of years.
“The North-South corridor would go through Iran and central Asia and it might have connection with some of the European countries. The nodal port will be certain Iranian ports like Chabahar to cut short the distance. Some test containers were sent successfully. It is not yet operational but it has a good potential to start in the near future. May be in a couple of years,” Idamkin said.
He said India and Russia are working together in research, development and production of advanced defence systems which is ably aided by India’s ‘Make In India’ initiative, that provides unlimited opportunities of engagement between the Russian companies and India’s private defence manufacturers.
“In the pipeline are one of the best air defence systems, the fifth generation fighter jet project and the Kamov 226T helicopters which will also be produced under the Make In India initiative. One part of it is going to be exported from Russia while majority of it will be built in India. The other initiatives like Project 75I-class submarine and refuelling tankers are also on the way,” he said.
Idamkin also said the possibility of a maritime corridor between India’s Chennai and Russia’s Vladivostok is being discussed at an official level and has support from both the governments.
However, he refused to give a specific time frame about when the project will commence.
Asked about the impact of US-China trade conflict based on tariffs on Russian economy, he said it would hardly affect Russia as the country’s economy is robust and has been growing at a stable rate in recent years.
“I feel the Russian economy is robust enough to withstand all form of international commotion that may occur in the world economy. A trade war is not the best thing for the world economy. However, I do not see any danger to the Russian economy which is quiet stable since the last year. Though the projected growth is not very high, the growth rate is quite stable,” he added.