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Russia seeks help for WTO entry

By Monica Gupta in New Delhi
November 27, 2004 12:13 IST
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Russia is keen on getting India's support for a World Trade Organisation membership. The matter is likely to come up in a big way during Russian President Vladimir's Putin visit to India on December 3.

A high-level delegation from Russia is expected to hold discussions on the issue with senior government officials over the weekend.

India had already agreed to Russia's demand to raise the level of discussion to the additional secretary level, officials told Business Standard. As of now, these discussions were taking place at the consular level in Geneva.

Russia also wants its name withdrawn from India's list of non-market economies. India treats countries such as Russia and China as non-market economies on the principle that these do not follow international practices in terms of costing and pricing of products.

While the external affairs ministry favours Russia's candidacy for the WTO, the commerce and industry ministry is of the view that India should try and obtain concessions on services, particularly movement of natural persons in return.

"We have been wanting Russia to relax its visa norms for Indian professionals, students and businessmen. The present provisions, which require a person to have stayed in Russia for 10 years are extremely restrictive," an official said.

India also wants Russia to relax its export guidelines for rough diamonds as these are available in Russia and India is an important market for cut diamonds.

Moreover, it wants Russia to lower its import duty on packaged tea and tobacco. "Though Russia is a huge consumer of tobacco, India's tobacco exports are facing non-tariff barriers," an official said.

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Monica Gupta in New Delhi

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