Indian and Russian trade experts are meeting this week to explore and discuss options that will remove bilateral trade blocks to achieve a USD 10 billion trade and lead to a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had proposed such a meeting of experts in a Joint Study Group (JSG) when he met Russian President Vladimir Putin last May. The agreement to set up a JSG was signed when the Russian Economic Development & Trade Minister visited India in February. Putin had said that he wanted a
quantum jump in bilateral relations.
While both nations have repeatedly emphasized the need to improving pathetic levels of bilateral trade valued at USD 2 billion, there has been no forward movement on this issue although the objective is to raise bilateral trade to USD 10 billion by 2010. Traditional ties between India and Russia has always been centered around defense and strategic dialogue and never went beyond these parameters to broad-base ties.
In February, both nations revealed that they were in advanced stage of negotiations to
modernize Soviet era weapons in India valued at USD 10 billon. India also announced that it plans to buy
3 "Talwar" class frigates from Russia and announced
Naval war-games early 2007. The two nations have jointly developed the
supersonic BrahMos missile
which is being deployed in all branches of Indian defense with good potential
for sale to third countries. Rejecting US protestations, Russia has also helped
India greatly with the
Tarapur nuclear fuel requirement. Russia has expanded cooperation by bringing
India and China together in a trilateral dialogue. It is working with India in a
futuristic nuclear rector project and included India into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) dialogue as an observer.