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November 29, 2022

Source: indianexpress.com

Of the total $18,229.03 million bilateral trade in April-August, India’s imports from Russia accounted for $17,236.29 million, while New Delhi’s exports to Moscow were only worth $992.73 million, leaving a negative trade balance of $16,243.56 million.

Fuelled by a surge in import of oil and fertilisers, India’s bilateral trade with Russia has soared to an all-time high of $18,229.03 million in just five months (April-August) of this financial year (2022-23), according to the latest data available with the Department of Commerce.

In contrast, the total annual bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $13,124.68 million in 2021-22, and $8,141.26 million in 2020-21. Pre-Covid, it was $10,110.68 million in 2019-20, $8,229.91 million in 2018-19, and $10,686.85 million in 2017-18.

With the sharp spike in trade, Russia has now become India’s seventh biggest trading partner — up from its 25th position last year. The US ($57,632.37 million), China ($50,792.83 million), UAE ($36,820.33 million), Saudi Arabia ($23,995 million), Iraq ($18,822.27 million) and Indonesia ($18,816.58 million) were the six countries which recorded higher volumes of trade with India during the first five months of 2022-23.

Of the total $18,229.03 million bilateral trade in April-August, India’s imports from Russia accounted for $17,236.29 million, while New Delhi’s exports to Moscow were only worth $992.73 million, leaving a negative trade balance of $16,243.56 million.

In 2021-22, India’s exports to Russia stood at $3,254.68 million, while imports from Moscow were valued at $9,869.99 million.

In the past, there have been only two occasions when bilateral trade between the two countries crossed the $10 billion mark – in 2017-18 ($10,686.85 million) and 2019-20 ($10,110.68 million).

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An analysis of the data shows that Russia’s share in India’s total trade has increased to 3.54%, up from 1.27% in 2021-22. While Russia’s share in India’s total trade was 2.1% in 1997-98, it has hovered below 2% for the last 25 years.

The record level of bilateral trade between India and Russia is mainly due to a sudden jump in imports from Moscow, which began to surge earlier this year. There was an over 500% increase in three months – 561.1% in June, 577.63% in July and 642.68% in August – as compared to the same months of the previous year.

Petroleum oil and other fuel items (mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; bituminous substances; mineral waxes) accounted for 84% of India’s total imports from Russia in April-August this year, adding up to $14,476.52 million as compared to $1,593.58 million last year.

Fertilisers were second, with imports from Russia surging by 666.24% to $1,236.96 million in April-August this year, up from $161.43 million during the same period last year. Fertilisers and fuel together account for over 91% of the total imports from Russia this year.

On the other hand, pharmaceutical products ($176.51 million) and organic chemicals ($117.29 million) were the two main items shipped to Moscow.

India had a positive trade balance with Russia from 1997-98 (the most recent year for which comparable data is available) to 2002-03. But from 2003-04, New Delhi’s trade balance with Moscow has remained negative.

In 1997-98, India had trade with 224 countries and regions and Russia was its 16th biggest trading partner. However, Russia’s position gradually fell, slipping to 34th in 2013-14. It began climbing up from 2014-15, and was India’s 23rd biggest trading partner in 2017-18. After that, it remained between 25th to 30th place, before climbing to seventh place in 2022-23.

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