Moscow, Nov 10: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for the greater involvement of the private sector to boost trade turnover between India and Russia on the eve of his visit here. ''A greater involvement of the private sector is essential to expanding bilateral trade between the two countries,'' the visiting PM was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti news agency.
''Quality standards and certification requirements need to be mutually agreed upon,'' he said, pointing out that the ''volume of our two-way bilateral trade is still far below its true potential.'' ''Currently, India's exports to Russia are around 1 billion dollars, which is less than 1 per cent of India's overall exports and Indian imports from Russia are about 1.2 per cent of Russia's total exports,'' he said stressing that ''relatively high transportation costs and inadequate exchanges between Indian and Russian businessmen are some of the reasons for these low trade volumes.'' ''Diversification of trade to high value items such as gems and jewellery could offset the transportation cost disadvantage.
Rationalization of tariff lines, setting up of joint ventures and greater information exchange would also contribute to enhancing trade,'' Mr Singh said.
''Additionally, there is potential for investment in sectors such as machinery, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, agricultural and food products,'' he noted.
He said the two governments set up a Joint Study Group in 2006 to examine measures to boost bilateral trade to 10 billion dollars by 2010 and to study the feasibility of signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
The report of the Joint Study Group has been submitted, and is in the process of examination by our governments, he said.
''I look forward to discussing these issues with President Putin,'' the PM said.
He said one of the reasons for the currently limited investments seems to be the lack of information and awareness among the business communities on both sides.
''We set up the India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investment last year for business-to-business interaction. The first meeting of this Forum was held in February, 2007 in India with the participation of over 500 businessmen from both countries. The next meeting of the Forum is scheduled for February 2008 in India,'' he said.
''Our banks and financial institutions are now meeting regularly and more banks are seeking to establish correspondent relations. This should contribute to facilitating investments between our two countries,'' Mr Singh added.