Moscow– Though in 2015 trade between the two countries dropped by 7.8 percent, India still remains Russia’s major foreign trade partner and the negative trend could be overcome soon, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an exclusive interview.

“India has been and remains Russia’s major foreign trade partner. Even though in 2015 trade between the countries dropped by 7.8 percent, together with our Indian partners, we are resolved to overcome the negative trend, which, in our opinion, is largely associated with volatility on the global markets and in exchange rates,” Putin told IANS.

Vladimir Putin (Photo: Wikipedia)
Vladimir Putin (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Russian President made assertion in response to emailed questions sent jointly by IANS and the Russian Sputnik news agency, ahead of his visit to India for the five-nation BRICS Summit in Goa this weekend.

Putin said the commercial exchanges are mutually beneficial between the two countries and their structure shows the complementarity.

“Chemicals and engineering products account for a considerable share of Russia’s exports and the exports from your country.”

Putin said: “The energy sector plays an important role in trade and economic cooperation between Russia and India. Construction of the Kudankulam NPP is the largest long-term project. In August 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I took part in a ceremony dedicated to the handover of the first unit of the Kudankulam NPP to the Republic of India.”

“The second unit will be put into operation in the near future. Operation of the first and second units at their rated capacity will significantly increase the energy supply in India and strengthen its energy security.”

He said the two countries were also strengthening bilateral cooperation in the conventional energy sector.

During the St Petersburg International Economic Forum held in June 2016, Rosneft and an Indian consortium signed a contract for the sale of 23.9 per cent of shares in Vankorneft, which owns the Vankor field in the Krasnoyarsk region.

Besides, Rosneft sold a stake of shares in the Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha, a company developing a field in East Siberia, to Indian companies.

“Let me add that many of the Russian projects in India not only have commercial importance but also play a significant social and economic role for the economies of the two countries. They harmoniously fit in the new Indian industrialisation programme proposed by Modi,” Putin said.

Talking about the level of investment cooperation between the countries during his visit, Putin said: “Naturally, during our visit to India we hope to give fresh momentum to the bilateral trade and economic ties, given that companies of both countries are interested in implementing new mutually beneficial projects.”

“Russia’s cumulative investments in India amount to about $4 billion, while Indian businesses have invested in the Russian economy twice as much – about $8 billion.”

Putin said a Working Group on Priority Investment Projects has been established and is now successfully operating within the framework of the Intergovernmental Commission.

“Line agencies of the two countries, jointly with the India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investment, are engaged in a rigorous selection of promising business initiatives and work on identifying and removing barriers to the free flow of goods, capital and services.”

“To date, 20 priority projects have been selected — 10 Russian projects and 10 Indian ones — in such spheres as transport engineering, chemical industry, aircraft industry and pharmaceuticals.”

Talking about the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement with the total capital of $200 billion, Putin said: “I am convinced that, as the bank gets stronger, its output will only increase, including by means of projects that promote integration among the BRICS countries.”

Putin also said Russia supports enhanced cooperation in electronic commerce, in trade facilitation (with involvement of the Eurasian Economic Commission), supporting small and medium-sized businesses, and protection of intellectual property.