NEW DELHI, Nov 20, Reuter: The Soviet Union agreed to provide India with billions of rubles (dollars) in trade credits under agreements signed on Sunday at the end of President Mikhail Gor-bachev’s state visit.

An Indian Government spokes-man gave few details but said the Soviet Leader had offered a total of 3.2 billion rubles (5.3 billion dollars) in soft loans.

Most of the credits, the biggest ever offered by Moscow to India, will go on building two Soviets designed nuclear power plants in South India, the spokesman said.

The two countries have close economic links, particularly as the Soviet Union allows India to save large amounts of scarce foreign exchange by paying for imports in rupees.

Two-way trade between the two countries is expected to be 52 billion rupees (3.5 billion dollars) in 1988, rising to 70 billion (4.7 billion) next year.

Under the agreement, the Soviet Union will provide uranium for the entire life of the 1,000 megawatt plants to be built in Tamil Nadu state and will take back spent fuel. India has a chronic electricity shortage and Moscow also agreed to provide credits for thermal power stations.

Some 400 million rubles (666 million dollars) has been earmarked for the Vindhyachal power miler amount for a string of other projects.

During Gorbachev’s three day visit, India and the Soviet Union stressed the need to expand trade ties and the spokesman said 55 joint ventures were being discussed.

The spokesman said hotel construction in the Soviet Union in which India is already involved, had been identified as a growth area for India’s private sector and up to 30 hotels could be built in the next 15 years.

Gorbachev and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi also signed agreements dealing with double taxation problems as well as cooperation in space research.

Article extracted from this publication >> November 25, 1988