Negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) — Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan — are expected to start early next year. This issue, among others, was discussed during the 5th Session of India – Kazakhstan Joint Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation, held here on December 22-23.
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Both sides discussed the current state and prospects of development of economic and trade cooperation and exchanged views on the possibilities of expanding bilateral cooperation.
“They hoped that the process of obtaining internal clearances by both sides would be completed by end of December 2016 thereby paving the way for commencement of formal trade negotiations in early 2017,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.
Both sides agreed that early commencement and conclusion of formal negotiations on FTA would serve to boost bilateral trade and expressed satisfaction at the successful completion of the joint study group report on the feasibility of FTA between EEU and India.
About the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), both sides agreed that an efficient and effective border crossing procedure and multi-modal transportation arrangement could provide further impetus to bilateral trade.
In this context, the Kazakh side said that since December 2014, when the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway, which is the eastern branch of the INSTC, was launched, 2,500 tonnes of cargo has already been transported on this route.
“Indian shippers and freight forwarders were requested to make extensive use of this transportation facility for bilateral trade,” it added.
Both sides agreed that since all members of INSTC, except India and Oman, were already signatories to TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) Convention 1975, custom issues and common documentation issues could be quickly resolved if India signed the TIR Convention and aligned its system, it said.
Further, the Kazakh side expressed interest in establishing cooperation with leading Indian companies dealing with production and sale of phosphorus pentasulfide and its derivatives.
The two countries agreed that there was potential for promoting investments in spheres of oil and gas, civil nuclear energy, uranium, chemicals, food processing, public health, pharmaceuticals, IT and mining and metals.
The need to augment connectivity and information exchange dissemination and promote cooperation in service sector was also underlined, the statement added.
On visa, India requested the Kazakh side to further liberalise their current visa regime for Indian citizens and proposed that the second round of Consular consultation may be held in the first quarter of 2017.
The Indian side expressed interest in further development of bilateral cooperation in the exploration and development of tungsten mines in Kazakhstan.
It hoped that MoU between National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) and Kazgeology as also between NMDC and Kaznex Invest could be concluded in the first quarter of 2017.
“The Indian side noted with satisfaction that Kazakhstan had granted two year extension to the exploration contract of OVL in June 2016 and preparatory work was in progress for the planned drilling of the second commitment exploration well targeting deeper reservoirs (Paleozoic) in Satpayev Block in June/ July 2017,” the Commerce Ministry said.