India with US and Iran: a fine balancing act?
IE reports on Hillary Clinton’s visit to India:
Pressing India to further reduce oil imports from sanctions-hit Iran tops the agenda of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who flew into Kolkata today at the start of a three-day visit to India.
The US has been urging India and other countries to slash oil imports from Iran aimed at stepping up pressure on Tehran to comply with international demands over its nuclear programme.
India, which imports 80% of its crude oil and relies on Tehran for 12% of those imports, has said it needed to continue to buy Iranian oil to meet its domestic requirements.
Though India has publicly not said it was aiming to cut back on oil imports from Iran, the country’s top oil importers have been pushed to reduce Iranian oil imports by 15-20 per cent.
Crude imports from Iran fell to 18.5 million tons in 2010-11 from 21.2 million tons in 2009-10. Last fiscal (2011-12), Iranian oil imports dropped to less than 16 million tons. This year they may further come down to 14 million tons.
The US holds out a threat of sanctions against India and China if they continue to buy Iranian crude. Now India needs the US as a friendly trading partner, just as the US needs India as an ally next to China’s borders. Is this the reason for the timing of a visit by a Iranian trade delegation?
Z News reports:
An Iranian mission will start a six- day trip to India on Sunday for talks to promote trade ties with the South Asian country, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
The delegation”s trip, covering New Delhi and Mumbai, is aimed at expanding trade relations and exploring “new avenues of mutual cooperation” with India, said the report.
During the visit, Tehran Chamber of Commerce is due to sign several memorandums of understanding with the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India as well as Indian export organizations.
According to the report, India buys around 11 billion US dollars worth of oil from Iran every year, making Iran its second largest crude oil supplier after Saudi Arabia. However, India only sells Iran 2.7 billion US dollars in goods every year.
Iran and India have worked out a deal, under which New Delhi pays for almost half of its Iranian oil imports in rupees, and the rupee payments will be used by Iran to buy Indian goods. By this means, both countries hope to achieve the bilateral trade target of 25 billion US dollars over the next four years.
Is the elephant learning to dance?