India has restarted the export of key goods including tea, rice, fruits, coffee, marine products and confectionery shipping, experts have noted. Russia has reportedly begun importing Indian goods as banks led by Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender are facilitating bilateral trade between the two historic allies by transporting shipping containers through ports in Georgia. This comes as Mr Johnson heads to India to try and secure a £28billion a year trade deal with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Ajay Sahai, director general and CEO of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, said: “The transactions are happening through Sberbank.”.
Trade between Moscow and New Delhi was temporarily halted as Western sanctions created a sense of uncertainty for Indian businesses following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The trade is being facilitated primarily through a rupee-ruble route, with some banks providing payment in euros, insider sources told the Economic Times, an Indian publication.
Ashwin Shah, director at Shah Nanji Nagji Exports, a leading exporter of rice to Russia said: “We have just shipped 60 containers of non-basmati rice to Russia, each weighing 22,000 kg.
“Payment for our rice is being handled by Russia-based Alfa Bank. Bank of Maharashtra is our Indian bank.”
These exports to Russia are helping soften the impact of Western sanctions of Putin, with reports suggesting that food stores in the country are running out.
Mohit Agarwal, director of Asian Tea, a leading exporter said: “Tea exports to Russia have begun and we have just shipped five containers to Russia.”.
For Indian tea manufacturers, Russia is a major market, importing 43-45 million kg annually.
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Industry sources to the Economic Times that trade relations between the two countries will grow further, with more items to be exported to Russia shortly.
India and Russia have been allies since the 1970s, with India relying on Russian vetoes in the UN to protect itself from any adverse statement on Kashmir.
Meanwhile. New Delhi is also heavily dependent on Moscow for its weaponry, with about two-thirds of India’s arsenal being Soviet or Russian made.
The revival of trade between India and Russia may complicate Mr Johnson’s visit to New Delhi, with journalist Naomi Canton noting that India’s neutral stance over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might be a “sticking point”.
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Mr Johnson is looking to build trade, security and diplomatic links with one of the world’s fastest emerging powers and growing economies.
He said: “As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together.
“My visit will deliver on the things that matter – from job creation and economic growth, to energy security and defence.”