India and the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) have proposed starting negotiations for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) between the two sides.
The Eurasian Economic Commission is a customs union that comprises the Republic of Belarus, Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.
The agreement was arrived at a bilateral meeting between India's minister of commerce, industry and textiles Anand Sharma and chairman of the board of the
Anand Sharma said the customs union is an important block in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) from the point of view of India-CIS trade.
''India is of the view that the need for CECA with the customs union is a well established concept. We have expressed our desire to begin the negotiations for it,'' said Sharma.
The need for a CECA with the customs union that includes Russia has been felt since 2006-07 and the idea has been presented during different bilateral meetings in the past with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, he said.
Sharma also suggested the establishment of a joint study group (JSG) for CECA between India and the customs union.
Both sides also agreed to discuss the terms of reference for the JSG, composition of JSG and fixing of the time frames for the submission of the JSG report in June 2013 when Sharma visits St Petersburg for the International Economic Forum.
The two sides are also exploring the possibility of a meeting of ministers from all the concerned countries ahead of the IEF forum.
India's total trade with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan stood at $6.547 billion in 2011, which jumped to $7.433 billion in 2012.