Russia keen on reaching $10 billion trade target

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New Delhi, Feb 12 (UNI) Russia today expressed its desire to work closely with India to achieve the target of 10 billion dollars in bilateral trade in the next two years.

''The two countries should work closely to achieve the target of 10 billion dollars bilateral trade by 2010. The two sides need to look at new areas of co-operation. Russia can become India's most important economic ally if the two sides engage seriously with each other,''Russian Prime Minister Victor Zubkov said at the Second India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investment.

The Russian PM added that representatives from Russian oil, gas, mining and machinery industries are working closely with Indian businessmen and exploring ways for further co-operation.

Speaking at the Forum, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said, ''Our business ties are running far below potential.

We should address the issues of high transportation costs and inadequate exchanges between Indian and Russian businessmen to boost our trade volume.'' The north-south corridor provides the shortest link between India and Russia through Iran and the Caspian Sea. The corridor could help reduce costs by nearly one-third, he added.

The diversification of high-value trade items could offset the transportation cost disadvantage, Mr Nath said.

The Commerce Minister said that a number of Russian entrepreneurs are studying India's telecom market and are interested in investing in the manufacturing of telecom equipment.

''Russia holds enormous potential for us. The sectors that look promising include pharmaceuticals, tea and tobacco. We would like to revive tea trade,'' Mr Nath said.

He said there is considerable scope for collaboration in the service sector. The Russian oil boom is driving the domestic IT sector to grow. Though big Indian IT companies are absent in Russia, things are changing.

Mr Nath said, ''The Russian technology sector has much to offer us. Similarly, Indian banking industry can play a role in strengthening Russia's financial sector.'' UNI PBB mp ht1940

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