Indian exporters head to Russia, eye food, chemicals

NEW DELHI: With enquiries from Russia pouring in, around 50 Indian food, ceramics and chemicals exporters are headed to the country, that has been hit by sanctions after it attacked Ukraine 2 months ago. Trade and financial sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, UK, EU and other countries due to the current conflicts between Russia and Ukraine have opened up various avenues for Indian businesses across various sectors.

“Indian companies too are excited to tap the huge potential available for Indian products in Russia,” said Vivek Agarwal, who leads the food and beverage committee at lobby group TPCI, which is organising the visit later this month. A Fieo official said that several enquiries have come from Russia, especially for food products, tea and coffee.

For instance, Russian supermarket chain X5 has approached Indian exporters to buy everything from rice, detergents, tea, coffee, fruits, textiles, soda and beer. In case of chemicals, the demand is higher for industrial chemicals, a segment where China is the largest exporter Exporters have to tackle key challenges — shipping routes, insurance and payment. Besides, TPCI’s Agarwal said there need to be relaxation in custom laws, compliances such as labelling.

“As far as payment mechanism is concerned, we will strictly follow the government guidelines and suggestions,” he said. While the government recognises that the conflict opens up opportunities in Russia, it has maintained a distance, with officials suggesting that shipments will start once the war ends.

Demand for Indian wheat and corn from other parts of the world has shot up due to sanctions in Russia. Food, pharma and oil are among product categories that are exempt from the sanctions. An Indian exporter said that there are payment options for certain segments that are being used at the moment. But more clarity will emerge when the RBI and the government firm up the plan in consultation with Russian authorities.