With Prime Minister Narendra Modi currently in Tajikistan for the final leg of his visit to Central Asia, the Confederation of Indian Industry has hailed his ‘landmark’ tour, predicting that the trade with the nations visited can increase exponentially.
“Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Central Asia is a landmark event to revitalise our ancient links with the region. CII estimates that trade with the five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan can multiply manifold from the small base of USD 1.4 billion currently,” said CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee.
A CII press release has identified oil and gas, minerals and metals, agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, textiles and chemicals as the major areas of opportunity for India in Central Asia. The release also stated that the services sectors are an untapped potential between the two sides, including sectors such as Information Technology, education and skill development, and tourism.
The CII also suggested that India and the Eurasian Economic Union should engage in Free Trade Agreement negotiations on the fast track.
“There is need to rapidly move forward on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that would connect India to Central Asia and Russia via Iran. The INSTC would greatly reduce freight transport time and open up connectivity between these regions,” said Banerjee.
Trade between India and the Central Asian region reportedly stood at USD 1,380.05 billion in 2014-15, with India’s exports to the five countries at USD 604.32 million and its imports at USD 775.73 million. Kazakhstan is India’s largest trading partner among the five countries, and trade has seen a rapid expansion as India is sourcing mineral fuels from the country.