India, Russia to revitalise Joint Business Council

Wednesday, 19 February 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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MOSCOW: A joint business body of India and Russia has been activated to bolster trade and economic ties that have been lacklustre in spite of the best of political relations.

The Indo-Russian Joint Business Council (JBC) began its third session here Tuesday here.

While opening the session, Evgeny Primakov, a veteran political leader and president of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, emphasised the role the JBC ought to play in bringing the captains of Indian and Russian industry together.

The JBC will henceforth hold its session once a year in New Delhi and Moscow alternatively.

The council, involving the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was formed in 1994. But it remained dormant after holding its second session in 1996.

The decision to reactivate the body was taken after Primakov became head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2002.

Speaking highly about the strategic partnership between the two countries, Primakov lamented that the bilateral trade and economic relations were not commensurate with that.

He pleaded for urgent measures to ensure smooth transition to hard currency-based trade after debt-repayment rupee funds are exhausted in less than two years.

He urged the business communities of the two countries to pay greater attention to IT and biotechnology to boost trade.

He added that the council should not substitute the Intergovernmental Joint Commission, the apex body for policy decisions for trade, economic, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation but supplement its work.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the Indian minister of state for commerce and industry, said at the session that the JBC should be a platform to mobilise resources for cooperation in the small and medium sectors and the knowledge-based industry.

He suggested that a permanent think tank under the JBC be formed to formulate guidelines to strengthen trade and economic ties between the two countries.

Ambassador to Russia K. Raghunath drew attention to Indian investment of $1.7 billion in the massive Sakhalin-I oil and gas project and Russian investment in the Koodankulam nuclear plant.

He emphasised that there was plenty of opportunities for investment in each other's economies.

Top executives from Russian and Indian firms presented papers on the scope of bilateral cooperation in IT, the pharma industry, biotechnology and the food industry.

Source: IANS
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