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FFFAI allays trade apprehensions over INSTC feasibility at Maritime Nation India expo 2017

Federation of Freight Forwarders Association of India (FFFAI) has assuaged concerns of Indian trade about feasibility of International North-South Trade Corridor (INSTC) at the Maritime Nation India expo 2017 on 16th Sept. Since the launch of the corridor in 2002, not a single container has been despatched via INSTC, said Mr Rajan, Director, Ministry of Commerce, government of India lamenting lack of Indian EXIM fraternity patronage to INSTC at the FFFAI session at the expo.

Underlining trade potential Central Asian Countries(CAR) including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Belarus along with Russia, he said India's external trade with CAR countries currently stands at $ 10 bn and following sealing of Free Trade Agreement(FTA) with CAR and other neighbouring countries in the region, India's trade is poised to jump from $37 bn from $62 bn. In per centage terms, India shares measly 1.5% with East European nations excluding Russia, he added.

Russia alone present $ 300 bn trade potential to India via INSTC except for logistic challenges, he observed and further emphasized the role of Georgia in tapping 13 East European trading nations via former country. Trade route via Georgia promises to slash distance by 40 per cent and cost by 30 per cent, he pointed out. Detailing government's agenda in boosting INSTC prospects, commerce ministry director reiterated the proposed FTA with Georgia and Common Wealth of Independent States (Eastern European countries) to accelerate trade volumes.

 He further added that Russia and 11 other neighbouring countries in the region are the focus market radar of the government. Exhorting the EXIM community support in uplifting the trade volumes between India and INSTC trade route nations, He pledged members of trade that Indian government is determined to iron out all outstanding issues plaguing INSTC via Government-to-Government deliberations and dialogue.

Mr D P Srivastav, former Indian ambassador to Iran flayed the misconceptions about Iran among Indian EXIM compatriots. Iran serves as gateway to CIS nations via INSTC route for India and the former country is incurring $62 billion import bill a potential trade target for the latter, he said. Reeling out economic indicators of Iran favouring close bilateral trade with India, the former diplomat said Iran has low 1.5% external debt to GDP ratio besides declining rate of inflation from 13% to 6.8% and an annual growth rate of 5%, he added. The low percentage of external debt to GDP indicates that India won't face payment issues while carrying out export and import trade with Iran, he opined.

Dispelling the lingering fears of Indian trade over erstwhile US-related trade sanctions on Iran, he remarked that despite sanctions two nation non-oil trade rose from $2.4 bn in 2010-11 to $4.9 bn in 2013-14. The former Indian diplomat to Iran further said that Iran has abolished exchange rate and has provided banking channels for receiving and making payments in rupees. The FIATA bill of lading was introduced mainly for transit of goods from India securing insurance claims on export import consignments, he said.

Stressing on the cheap untapped potential gas trade potential between Turkmenistan and India, Srivastava said gas price remains comparatively cheaper at $1.8 mmbtu in Iran in comparison with India's $7.6 mmbtu, where India has scope to import gas at cheaper rates from gas-rich Turkmenistan via Iran thru INSTC to cater to domestic fuel and fertilizer needs. Touching upon Indian government initiatives to beef up INSTC, he stated that India is helping Iran in completion of rail projects providing INSTC linkages.

Mr Abbas Nazari, Director General, International Affairs, Iranian Railways gave an over view of upcoming rail infrastructure projects in Iran. Ms Irina, Chief Specialist, EVRAZ, Russian Railway Logistics Company threw light on rail logistics infrastructure facilities of Russia.

Mr Samir J Shah, Chairman, FFFAI informed about slew of initiatives undertaken by his association to popularise INSTC among various International chambers and commerce and trade associations to patronise INSTC.

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