India and Russia are contemplating to create a ‘green corridor’ in order to boost bilateral trade ties.

Indian business daily ‘The Economic Times’ has reported that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin recently discussed the issue with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after receiving a proposal in this regard from the Federal Customs Service. The Russian government service regulating customs believes that the proposed corridor will ease customs procedures, thus, strengthening trade ties between the two “friendly” nations.

The daily quoted an Indian External Affairs Ministry official as saying: “The main advantage of the ‘green corridor’ is that goods being transported by entrepreneurs will not have to undergo customs inspection and examination when crossing the border – measures now commonly used to minimise risks. This also applies to documents.”

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, also said that both New Delhi and Moscow were ready to create a list of entrepreneurs or companies who would enjoy exemption from regular customs inspections. He revealed that there would be a separate post and a special inspector at the customs terminal for green corridor participants.

The current volume of Indo-Russian trade is nearly USD 10 billion and the two countries have decided to triple the volume in the next decade, apart from increasing the amount of mutual investment especially in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, jewellery, technical equipment and machinery, oil and gas, and textile sectors. New Delhi and Moscow are also preparing a road map to settle bilateral trade in national currencies.

Meanwhile, Rogozin assured Swaraj that Russia would take part in the “Make in India” initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an attempt to transform the South Asian country into a global manufacturing hub. For her part, Swaraj said that India wants to develop (jointly with Moscow) iron ore and coal mines in Russia. Earlier, Indian Minister of Industry and Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman had hinted that New Delhi could invest USD 15 billion in Russian iron ore and coal mines in the next five years.

The two countries signed various multi-billion dollar defence and nuclear energy deals during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Moscow in December 2015. Later, the Modi government cleared the acquisition of five S-400 air defence systems from Moscow. Top Indian and Russian officials will finalise the deal ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India for attending the Eighth BRICS Summit, scheduled to take place in the Western Province of Goa on October 15-16.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]