Moscow and New Delhi in talks over free trade deal

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India and Russia are holding discussions on a free trade deal to boost their growing economic ties, the countries’ foreign ministers announced on Monday at a business dialog meeting in New Delhi.

According to Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, New Delhi is in “advance agreement” on a trade deal, which Russian Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov said would bring a guarantee of bilateral investment.

Russia is traditionally a supplier of military equipment to India. This year, it has displaced Iraq as the South Asian nation’s top supplier of oil. India’s overall imports from Russia have nearly quadrupled, reaching $46.33 billion in the year to March 31, according to Jaishankar.

Manturov said Russia was looking to boost imports of Indian machinery to improve the trade balance, which currently favors Moscow.

“We need to find a niche in the products which India can replace,” the minister told journalists on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi. “In civilian projects, we need the level of cooperation as it was before sanctions.”

Jaishankar added that Indian companies could benefit from Russian technology and that New Delhi was working to resolve issues surrounding payments, certification and logistics that arose due to sanctions imposed by Western countries on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.

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