PM welcomes Russia's entry to WTO

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Manmohan Singh
Moscow, Dec 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today (Dec 16) welcomed Russia's impending entry into the WTO even as he voiced concern over the current Indo-Russian trade volume of USD nine billion being far below its potential.

Singh also said that India was keen to enter into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the Customs Union comprising Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and that it has already decided to set up a Joint Study Group in this regard.

"India warmly welcomes Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO)," Singh said while addressing the CEOs of Captains of Russian and Indian industry.

Singh said at a time of a global economic slowdown, when traditional engines of growth are in difficulty, the Indian and Russian economies can be natural partners in reviving growth, creating infrastructure and generating surpluses.

"The opportunity for a substantial expansion of our economic relations is now," he said.

A joint statement issued at the end of Singh's talks with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev also noted that the two countries have decided to jointly study the possibility of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Custom Union.

On the issue of energy cooperation, the joint statement said the Indian side reiterated its interest in equity participation through ONGC-OVL in new projects in Russia.

ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of government-owned Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) has expressed interest in taking at least 20 per cent stake in the Sakhalin-3 oil and gas fields and importing liquefied natural gas from Russia.

OVL has been since 2006 raising the issue of stake in the far east Russian oil and gas fields but Moscow is yet to respond favourably.

At the CEOs summit, Singh said the Indian government is committed to create a policy environment that is conducive for Russian companies to do business in India, and to invest in the country.

"We are working with Russia in the areas of mutual recognition of standards and financial practices, facilitation of visa and other regulatory requirements, policy measures to promote trade and investment and creation of institutional mechanisms to address trade disputes," he said.

PTI

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