New Delhi– India on Friday called for a government-level agreement with Russia for diamond imports in a way that does not adversely impact New Delhi’s balance of payments and announced the setting up of a fast track, single window mechanism for Russian companies.

Addressing the India-Russia Business Summit organized here by industry chamber CII to coincide with the official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said that India had emerged as a major hub for diamond cutting and polishing, while Russia has huge diamond reserves.

“We should work out a government-to-government agreement in which we import in a manner that does not adversely impact our balance of payments and we will meet our demand. This way Russian exports will increase to India and we import it, process it and re-export that, and both get benefited,” he said.

Noting there are huge opportunities in both the countries to increase trade and investments, Prabhu said that a single window system had been worked out under the chairmanship of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Ramesh Abhishek to facilitate Russian investments in India.

“Through this mechanism, we will ensure that you (Russian companies) talk to only one ministry and all your issues will be resolved at one place,” he said.

The Minister also said that work on the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) was underway.

The INSTC project has been designed to increase trade connectivity between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe through a 7,200 km-long, multi-modal network of ship, rail and road routes for moving freight between these countries.

On the free trade negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union, Prabhu said that a team will be coming to India in January 2019 for talks.

Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said that Moscow was preparing a strategy to increase economic cooperation with India and is also working closely with the other members of the Eurasian Economic Union to conclude a free trade agreement with India. (IANS)

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