New Delhi: India on Friday asked Russia to "make headway" with the proposal for a comprehensive free trade agreement between New Delhi and Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union as it would help in boosting trade ties.

The proposal came for discussion during the meeting of Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma with with Russian Minister of Economic Development Andrey Belousov and Russian Minister of Industry & Trade Denis Manturov.

Sharma is in Russia to attend St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2012.

An official statement said that Sharma also conveyed the urgency "to make headway with the proposal for CECA with the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union, which holds the key to achieving higher trade targets for India,"

He said that "the first step for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with the customs union countries can be taken after Russia’s accession to WTO by setting up of a Joint Study Group".

The Customs Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus formally came into existence on January, 2010.

The three countries took their economic integration with the implementation of the Common Economic Space which provides for free movement of goods, services, people and investments.

Further, Sharma said that the level of bilateral trade and investment between India and Russia is below its potential.

"He put stress on making sincere and concerted efforts and to take specific measures including thrust areas, to achieve the target bilateral trade figure of USD 20 billion by
2015," the statement added.

The bilateral trade between the countries stood at USD 9 billion in 2011.


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