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India wants FTA with customs union, eyes Russian help for CECA within EEC

India wants FTA with customs union, eyes Russian help for CECA within EEC

NEW DEHLI: India want to take up the issue of starting work on a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Customs Union(CU) comprising Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus when Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in New Delhi later this week.

A senior official told that India will egg on Moscow to steer the process for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) within the Eurasian Economic Commission (ECC), which is the permanent regulatory agency of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Community.

The two sides are also likely to announce setting up of a joint study group during the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Russian President.

Putin’s visit to New Delhi during December 10-11 to attend the 15th annual India-Russia summit is coinciding with the World Diamond Conference being organised by the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).

Russia is the largest diamond-producing country, by volume, across the globe. It produced 25 per cent of total carats and 26 per cent of rough diamond value in 2013. However, while it exports 63 per cent of its rough diamonds to the EU, it exports only 16 per cent to India, which processes and polishes 14 out of 15 rough diamonds of the world.

Alrosa, a group of Russian companies, is expected to sign “12 long-term contracts with Indian companies” during Putin’s visit, a move that will ensure consistency of supply in India, Vipul Shah, chairman, GJEPC, said. He added that currently “mining companies are shying away from opening offices in India due to complex tax system and customs issues. In this meeting, the issue is likely to be taken up”. The GJEPC has asked for special notified zone, where global diamond mining companies could set up their trading offices and bring their rough diamond supplies for the direct trading to the Indian companies.

Further, during the visit, New Delhi and Moscow will try to increase the bilateral trade which stood at $6.01 billion in 2013-14 with exports to Russia at $2.12 billion and imports at $3.89 billion during the period.