Current state of Russia-India bilateral trade

Why does its quantity fall?

It goes without saying that Russia and India have created and steadily develop comprehensive strategic partnership. Its trade relations are not an exception – they strengthened in the course of time: during the last 10 years bilateral trade raised 4.6 times – in 2004 it amounted 2 bln USD, in 2014 it equaled 9.5 bln.

The structure of trade between the two countries is outstanding. The share of primary and resource-based products is 39% in Russian exports to India and 36% in Indian exports to Russia (if compared to other BRICS member states, the share of primary goods equals 53% of Indian exports to South Africa, 62%-to Brazil, 68% - to China). At the same time the share of high-technology products is 23% of Russian exports to India and 19% of Indian exports to Russia (there is no other BRICS nation where the share of high-tech products in imports from Russia is more than 3% and from India – more than 6%). Thus current structure of Russia-India trade serves for the development of high-intensity production and modernization of the two nations.

Though in 2014 in terms of Russian economic downturn the trade turnover descended (it used to be 10 bln in 2013) that was primarily due to the reduction of Russian exports while imports from India grew by 2.6% (from 3.1 to 3.2 bln USD). Counter-measures on imports of alimentary products from Western countries, introduced by Russia in August 2014 had considerable positive impact on food supplies from India: in 2014 imports of alimentary products under sanctions from India to Russia raised by 35,3% (from 104 to 142 mln USD). For example imports of crayfish grew more than 2 times high – from 31 to 68 mln USD, imports of frozen vegetables rose from nearly zero to more than 3.5 mln USD.

At the same time bilateral trade remains well behind its potential. And it seems that the partners don’t use at full power the opportunities offered by various factors, including the enhance of collaboration within the BRICS and the impact of Western sanctions. In 2014 India took the second place among the Russian trading partners within the BRICS with the share of only 14% in exports and 6% in imports from member countries. For India Russia was on the last place as a trading partner among the BRICS with a share 8% in intra-BRICS exports and 6% in imports.

Speaking about goods for oil production that were subjected to Western economic sanctions the trend is negative: their imports from India to Russia in 2014 fell down – from 11 mln USD in 2013 to 8.6 mln USD last year due to the decrease in supplies of the main import category – parts of cranes, work-trucks, shovels, construction machines (from 9.6 mln USD to 7 mln USD). Though Indian overall exports of several products (namely line pipes of stainless steel, pipe lines submerged arc from welded steel, tubing and drill pipes) exceed Chinese exports, and some of them (pipe-lines submerged arc from welded steel for instance) even equal supplies from the EU, trade with Russia remains minor.

Therefore Russia and India have an exceptionally vivid opportunity to develop bilateral trade, but a substantial progress in the two countries’ business circles interaction in needed. The collaboration should be strengthened on the level of export support agencies, regional authorities, SME development institutions. In addition the BRICS platform should be fully employed to fulfill the mutual goals.

India Russia