North-South Corridor provides cheaper transit route:India

IRNA, Iran
Sept 16 2004

New Delhi, Sept 16, IRNA -- The North-South Corridor Agreement
provides a faster and cheaper transit route for trade to Iran, Russian
Federation and beyond, which will make country`s exports competitive,
says a release of Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry Thursday.
The agreement was signed between India, Iran and Russian Federation
to facilitate movement of goods via the Caspian Sea and Astrakhan
to Russia and adjoining countries of the CIS region. In order to
enhance trade with CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region,
Indian government has undertaken many trade facilitation steps and
trade promotion measures. These include government lines of credit,
inter-banking relations, double taxation avoidance agreement, bilateral
investment protection agreement and strengthening of institutional
mechanisms like joint commission meetings, joint business councils
and trade missions.

Considering the potential that this region offers, the government had
launched focus on the CIS program in 2003 to enhance India`s trade
with this region, it said.

India`s exports to the CIS region, including Russia, have grown from
US$919 million in the year 2002-03 to US$1.020 billion in the year
2003-04, registering a growth of 11 percent.

Under the India Development Initiative, the Department of
Economic Affairs has issued new guidelines for government lines
of credit. Recipient countries have been put under four different
classifications. In the revised policy guidelines the State Bank of
India, Bank of Baroda and Indian Overseas Bank are also being used in
addition to EXIM Bank for channeling the LOCs to other governments.
To promote and facilitate trade, DTAA has already been signed with
Russian Federation, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan,
Uzbekistan, Armenia and Belarus.

Negotiations are on for signing the same with Azerbaijan. Steps will
be taken for initiating negotiations with rest of the CIS countries,
including Moldova, Georgia and Tajikistan. The government has signed
BIPA with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan,
Russian Federation, Ukraine, Armenia and Belarus.

The government has allowed exports of Indian goods on consignment
basis under the debt repayment route to the Russian Federation. ECGC
has upgraded credit ratings of a number of countries in the CIS region
as well as liberalized its under writing policy to these countries
which will help in promoting exports to this region.