India gave a list of Indian products to Moscow for access to Russian markets, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Monday.
The move comes at time when New Delhi wants to narrow its growing trade deficit with Russia and as Moscow faces acute shortages of some crucial materials following Western sanctions.
Last week it was reported that Moscow had sent India a list of more than 500 products for potential delivery, including parts for cars, aircraft and trains, as sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine squeeze its ability to keep vital industries running.
Russia has been India’s largest supplier of military equipment for decades and it is the fourth-biggest market for Indian pharmaceuticals.
But with India’s purchases of Russian oil soaring and coal and fertiliser shipments also strong, the South Asian nation is looking for ways to rebalance trade.
“We have given Russians a set of products which we believe we are very competitive in and which we feel should be getting access to the Russian market,” Jaishankar told reporters in a briefing with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, who is on a visit to India.
Talks Preceded Ukraine War
The minister added that discussions on expanding trade have been going on for some time, and even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“We will see where there is a demand and supply and there is a fit. I think a large part of it would be determined by the market,” Jaishankar added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has not joined Western countries in openly criticising Moscow for the war in Ukraine, and has sharply increased purchases of Russian oil that have cushioned Russia from some of the impact of sanctions.
During a visit to Moscow in November, Jaishankar said India needed to boost exports to Russia to balance bilateral trade that is now tilted towards Russia.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard