Russia offers SWIFT alternative for dollarless trade with India — report
The Indian government is reportedly considering Moscow’s proposal to turn to the Russian payment system, which allows direct rupee-ruble transfers in bilateral trade.
The mechanism developed by the Russian central bank is expected to boost commerce between the two countries by avoiding dollar-denominated trade, and allow the world’s third biggest oil consumer to continue purchases from Russia, bypassing Western sanctions.
The scheme involves rupee-ruble-denominated payments via Russia’s messaging system, SPFS. The final decision is expected to come after a two-day visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to India, according to unnamed people with knowledge of the matter, as quoted by Bloomberg.
Lavrov’s visit to India is scheduled for Thursday, and Russian central bank officials will reportedly visit the country next week to discuss the details.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the Reserve Bank of India regularly meets with executives from the country’s banking system to discuss matters such as exposure to Russia and risks from the latest sanctions.
The arrangement is expected to allow Indian exporters keep doing business with Russia despite the latest penalties that ban the use of the SWIFT interbank messaging system. It would allow India to continue purchases of Russian oil, weapons, and other goods.
Under the proposal, rubles will reportedly be deposited into an Indian bank and converted into rupees, and the same system will work in reverse. Russia also wants India to link its Unified Payments Interface with their MIR payments system for seamless use of cards issued by banks of both countries after Visa and Mastercard suspended operations in Russia.
Last year, India exported $3.3 billion worth of goods to Russia, mostly pharmaceutical products, tea, and coffee, and imported $6.9 billion worth of Russian products, including arms and defense goods, mineral resources, fertilizers, metals, diamonds, and other precious stones.
The world’s sixth biggest economy also imports Russian oil, with the country’s major refiner, Indian Oil Corp, increasing purchases over the past month.
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