India to start FTA talks with Eurasian Union soon

India hopes to soon begin formal negotiations for a FTA with the Eurasian Economic Union.

The Dollar Business Bureau

India hopes to soon begin formal negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the five-member Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia), with an aim to bolster commerce and investments.

A joint study group has already submitted its report on the viability of an FTA with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) members.

And India, in turn, has submitted its comment on the report, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"Their comments are awaited. The individual countries (of the EEU) will have to look at the report. The moment their comments come in, from there we can start...So a concrete major step will be to start actual negotiations...we hope to start that process," she told PTI in an interview.

The Commerce Minister had highlighted the FTA issue during her visit to Russia. The agreement, once come into force, will give Indian goods and services a greater market access in Russia and the Central Asia.

India is already in talks with Russia on the International North-South transport corridor project to promote bilateral trade.

The project proposes significant movements across Nhava Sheva in Mumbai through Bandar Abbas in Iran to Astrakhan in Russia and Baku in Azerbaijan.

Sitharaman said the project will play a pivotal role in channalising goods and will give a greater access to the landlocked Central Asian countries.

Russia's Rostech has recently announced it will partner with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to develop Kamov 226T military helicopters in India.

"This is the first India-Russia high-tech project implemented by the Indian government within the framework of Make in India programme," Sitharaman said.

India-Russia bilateral trade stood at $6.18 billion in 2015-16.

Meanwhile, negotiators of the India-EU FTA will also meet on Friday to discuss the next step. The meeting comes just days after Britain chose to exit the European Union group and the UK’s Business Minister Sajid Javid met Sitharaman to discuss the bilateral trade pact.

The Dollar Business Bureau - Jul 15, 2016 12:00 IST