Pakistan should focus Russia to tap the trade opportunities: FPCCI

LAHORE: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Chairman Standing Committee on Horticulture and Food Exports, Ahmad Jawad said Pakistan should focus Russia to tap the trade opportunities in the light of mutual overtures between two countries which were part of a greater shift in international relations

In geopolitics, strategic realities can change with surprising speed; he said. Though Russian businessmen are interested in Pakistani commodities and willing to extend preferential treatment to our exporters. As Russian imports of food-related commodities were worth about $39bn in 2013, about $23.5bn of which was in categories affected by the Russian ban on exports primarily to the Western market.

From the countries covered by the sanctions, Russia imported $17.2bn worth of food which it will now import from other countries; creates opportunities for Pakistani food and agriculture exporters from the last one year.

Jawad said, Pakistan’s current trade with Russia is about $550m which given the existing potential, can be further enhanced. Pakistani potatoes and kinnow fruits are already being exported. There is a big demand in Russia for seafood such as shrimps, prawns and shellfish.

Even in horticulture sector, Pakistan has a sizable share in Russia’s fruit and vegetable market. But they were more concerned about the quarantine standards of the Pakistan companies which they pointed out, must meet Russian quarantine standards; he added. Similarly we also sought government’s support in reducing sea and air freight charges which costs us more towards Russia.

It also may note that the past record of trade ties between the two countries have not been enviable by any measure. According to Euro monitor international, the Russian rice market was estimated at $35.4bn which was again a big opportunity for us.

Since Pakistan has already received an invitation for the first time to attend a Brics summit. Brics comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is emerging as a powerful global financial and economic bloc. So, a host of opportunities are knocking at the doors of Pakistan and it should capitalise on them in order to give a big push to the economy and trade of the country; said Jawad.

Its high time Ministry of Commerce may devise a detail oriented strategy with the consultation of FPCCI so that product specific exhibitions would be took place in different parts of Russia; he added.

However Pakistan would pursue the case of Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Russia vigorously to achieve easy access in the Russian market.

It was also decided that the government will make special arrangements to facilitate the export of fresh and frozen meat and poultry, vegetables which include carrot, cauliflower, cabbage and beet-root and fruits, which include dates, dry fruits, apple and plum.