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India trying to boost trade with Iran

Staff writer |
India cut its Iranian oil imports by more than 40 percent in the first five months of the year but remains Iran's second-largest customer for crude.

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India is replacing the crude with shipments from Venezuela, Iraq and Oman, and pushing Iran down four places to seventh among its suppliers.

India's government is now allowing traders to sell imports from third countries to Tehran if they can add at least 15 percent value to the products. In a bid to overcome problems posed by Western sanctions on Iran, India has been partly paying Tehran for oil in rupees, the Indian currency. But because of sanctions-related banking issues, the rupees have been piling up in an Indian bank.

Some of those rupees are used by Tehran to pay for things it buys from India that are not prohibited by the sanctions. But the Indian exports add up to far less than imports from Iran.

The head of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, Rafeeque Ahmed, hopes the latest measures to liberalize trade with Iran will result in sizeable growth in exports this year. India's exports amounted to less than $3 billion last year, while its oil imports totaled about $11 billion.

India exports mostly agricultural products such as rice. Ahmed says it now hopes to enter new areas such as textiles, machinery and consumer goods.

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