In the case of pharma, some Indian drug companies that have a base in eastern Europe are engaged in supplying medicines to Russia &Ukraine, sources said.
NEW DELHI: The government may be eyeing resumption of trade with Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries but is not rushing with any move.
While details are being discussed during inter-ministerial consultations, the focus is on exempted product categories such as pharmaceuticals, food products and plantation crops such as tea and coffee, which are a large part of India’s exports to the region. While the West has imposed sanctions on Russia, some of the products, including economically crucial oil and gas, are outside the purview, as are drugs and medicines and farm goods. “Things like telecom equipment will have to wait but we will initially start with some products that are exempted and are important parts of our export basket,” a government official told TOI. Sources indicated that India was hoping that the war in Ukraine ends quickly and would ideally want to wait for it before pushing exports.
Exporters currently face two critical challenges — shipping routes & payments. While some options such as shipping via Georgia and a few Chinese ports are being looked at, it’s a key obstacle. In the c ase of pharma, some Indian drug companies that have a base in eastern Europe are engaged in supplying medicines to Russia &Ukraine, sources said.
In case of the other issue, the RBI and the department of financial services have been in dialogue to find a solution for a rupee-rouble trade mechanism but it has been hanging fire amid constant pressure from the US, which has been critical of the stance taken by India at the UN as well as its decision to let Indian oil companies buy Russian crude.
As reported first by TOI, VTB and Sberbank have been identified as Russian banks which can potentially be used to route the payments. But the Indian bank is yet to be finalised although UCO Bank, which was involved with a similar arrangement with Russia, Bank of Maharashtra and Punjab & Sind Bank are among those whose names have been discussed. While trade with Russia is not large — estimated at $11 billion — exporters are keen to retain their market share. During April-January, exports were estimated at a little under $3 billion.