India outlines new areas for cooperation with Russia
Russia and India should focus more on support of small and medium sized enterprises (SME) that could become the new driving force for further economic growth between the countries, a representative of the Business Council for Cooperation with India, Ramnik Kohli, told RT on Thursday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) he said that India and Russia have "huge potential" for boosting trade ties in such areas as pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and component production, the processed food products sector, and retail.
The countries have a long history of cooperation in a range of sectors from trade in commodities including oil and gas, to weapons systems, but small business has so far been "totally ignored," Kohli noted.
In India, the share of the economy provided by SMEs is growing rapidly. It is expected that by 2030 small businesses will contribute around $2 trillion to the country's GDP, Kohli noted. He added that a "great relationship" between Moscow and New Delhi could be "converted into business" if the governments put more emphasis on measures to support entrepreneurs.
"We should have a free trade agreement between our countries, secondly we have to sign up a protection document to protect the investments in both countries," he said.
The trade and economic partnership between Russia and India has taken off in the face of Western sanctions. In 2022, Russia became one of India's top five trading partners for the first time. Bilateral trade hit a record $39.8 billion for the 2022-23 fiscal year, official statistics show.
Among other steps, Kohli proposed to bilaterally adopt each other's payment systems.
"The Mir payment system of Russia should be accepted in India and similarly the UPI payment system of India should be accepted in Russia – this will give a huge push to business and trade," he stated.
The move would allow boosting settlements in national currencies as part of the de-dollarization process that started last year, he noted, adding that roughly 18 countries are accepting the Indian rupee including Russia.
The US dollar's long-standing status as the world's dominant currency has been steadily eroded in recent years. Its dominance was seriously challenged last year as a large number of emerging economies opted to shift away from the greenback in their trade towards national currencies.
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