India seeks Russian investment as industry calls for joint action to avert slowdown news
11 February 2008

Mumbai: India is pitching for increased investments from Russia, especially in the proposed petrochemical and petroleum investment regions (PCPIR), as both countries seek to widen bilateral economic engagement during Prime Minister Victor Zubkov's visit to this country this week.

Industry association Assocham, meanwhile, suggested a joint action plan along with Russia and the other two BRIC countries to avert an economic slowdown triggered by the US financial crisis.

India and Russia will discuss expansion of business ties and energy cooperation, including nuclear energy and hydrocarbons, during Zubkov's maiden visit to the country.

The two countries will also discuss the escalation in the price of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.

Zubakov is expected to sign five pacts in the field of aviation and telecom, official sources said.

He will also formally inaugurate the Year of Russia in India.

An industry ministry official said India would ask Russian investors to look at the proposed PCPIRs as a possible investment destination to meet their chemical product needs.

"India is in a position to supply quality chemicals at competitive prices and Russia may explore the possibility of meeting their chemical, dyestuff and pesticides requirements from India," the official said.

The policy on petroleum and petrochemical investment regions, launched in May last year, anticipates an overall investment of $20 billion.

Meanwhile, an Assocham release said the two countries, along with Brazil and China, need to push trade within developing and emerging economies,

About 32 per cent of the BRIC countries' total external trade is done with the US and EU, which are currently facing the high risk of economic slowdown, the release pointed out.

Russia would be maximum exposed to the slowing of US and EU economies, as 49 per cent of its trade is directed towards them, Assocham president Venugopal N Dhoot said.

While India ranks lowest among the four BRIC nations in terms of global slowdown risk, Brazil and China may get severely hit with impending deceleration in developed economies as 35 per cent and 30 per cent of their respective external trade are directed toward US and EU, he said.

Trade between India and Russia can increase over five-fold to reach $20 billion by 2015 if the two countries address procedural issues that impede business, industry body FICCI said.

"Indo-Russia trade can cross the targeted $10 billion by 2010 and double to $20 billion by 2015, if trade irritants and procedural hassles are resolved," the chamber said in its survey on obstacles to trade with Russia.

India`s trade with Russia currently stands at $4 billion, growing 9.6 per cent in fiscal 2007. Its total merchandise exports to Russia were $907.6 million in 2006-07, up 23.81 per cent.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has identified credit risk, high ECGC coverage cost, insurance cover, Russian ban on import of farm products, registration time for pharma products and investment safeguards as factors impeding trade between the two nations.

Russian Prime Minister Victor Zubkov begins his three-day visit to India tomorrow. He is accompanied by 150-strong business delegation.

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India seeks Russian investment as industry calls for joint action to avert slowdown