India-Russia set $20-b trade target

India and Russia have set a target of more than quadrupling the bilateral trade to $20 billion in five years. The two countries identified pharmaceuticals, energy, IT & communication, chemicals & fertilisers and banking & finance as thrust areas in a protocol on trade and investment signed on Monday. An ambitious trade target and renewed focus on key sectors could help both countries increase presence in each other’s markets, which has fallen to low levels after disintegration of the USSR. “We need to make concerted efforts to reinvigorate our economic cooperation and integrate it with market forces,” commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said at the fourth India-Russia forum on trade and investments organised by CII and Ficci. Russian deputy Prime Minister Sergei Invanov admitted that $20 billion was a difficult target to work on, but said that both countries were experiencing sustained development under strained circumstances of global economy and hence there was great potential. Bilateral trade in 2009-10 was at $4.7 billion, with India’s exports at less than $1 billion. Mr Ivanov is leading a high profile business team from his country and is part of the official delegation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who reached India Monday evening for a two-day visit. One-fourth of the world’s generics (off-patent pharma) were produced in India, and there is scope of huge cooperation between India and Russia in the area, Mr Sharma said. A number of memorandum of understanding were signed between Indian and Russian pharmaceutical companies for joint production of medicines.

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