India hopeful of rupee trade with Russia after imports surge

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NEW DELHI, Jan 16 (Reuters) – India is hopeful of a rupee trade with Russia, a trade ministry official said on Monday, as government data showed a near 400% jump in Russian merchandise imports from April-December compared with a year ago.

India has been exploring a rupee trade settlement mechanism with Russia since soon after Moscow invaded Ukraine in February last year.

The two sides have spoken about facilitating trade in local currencies, Satya Srinivas, a secretary at the trade ministry, told reporters in New Delhi. However, rules have not yet been formalised.

India is hopeful that rupee trade with Russia will pick up in the future, Srinivas said.

The South Asian country is also looking to enhance exports of electronic items to Russia and the two sides are engaging “at all levels” to resolve issues related to trade barriers and a payments mechanism, Srinivas said.

New Delhi has become Moscow’s largest oil buyer, after China, buying discounted Russian crude at well below a $60 price cap agreed by Western nations, while also trying to close a growing trade deficit with the country.

India’s merchandise imports from Russia rose to $32.88 billion during April-December 2022, compared to $6.58 billion a year ago, according to data shared by the trade ministry on Monday.

Russia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Bangladesh are some of the other countries that are keen on rupee trade with India, he added.

Reporting by Shivangi Acharya; Writing by Shivam Patel; Editing by Toby Chopra, Jason Neely and Sharon Singleton

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