Call to boost Pakistan-Russian economic ties

KARACHI: Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s (KCCI) President Muhammad Haroon Agar has stressed the dire need of Pakistan-Russian intergovernmental arrangements to enhance economic and commercial cooperation, particularly to enhance reciprocal trade and joint ventures in energy and other important areas.

He stressed upon the need to develop direct Shipping and airlinks and establish banking channels to multiply bilateral trade which also needs attention by two governments. Exchanging views with Consul General of Russian Federation Oleg N Avedeev during his maiden visit to KCCI, he was of the view that during the last 64 years Pakistan’s economic relations had largely remained American and West oriented; also aid was the main focus of Pakistan instead easing market access, transfer of technology and investment.

Recalling Pak-Russian cooperation in the past, Haroon Agar emphasized to replicate cooperation on the lines of Pakistan Steel Mills in the areas of heavy machinery, engineering, automobiles, revamping railways, energy from Thar coal, corporate farming, mining, health, education and other areas of national interest.

He also voiced to expedite arrangements of Preferential Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Russian Federation. He apprised about the vital role of KCCI in the socioeconomic development of Pakistan and to promote trade and industry in Karachi and elsewhere. Further exchanging views he said Pakistan could seek the Russian help to integrate and boost its energy and engineering sector with technologies transfer.

It could be foreseen in the new developments that there could be a big share for the Russian Federation in the mining and manufacturing of coal based power generation, particularly in Thar Coal. Russia is the third largest Textiles importing country of the world after USA and EU; likewise Pakistan is the third largest textile exporting country, hence great potential exist for Pakistani Textiles Industry and its products to be exported to Russia. With the multilateral cooperation of Central Asian Republics, Russian trade can be facilitated from the ports of Pakistan to other countries of the globe. He stated that the present volume of trade between two countries was far below than the existing potential. The volume of bilateral trade was around $0.5 Billion while Pakistan exports to Russia were around $ 240 Million, he added.

Consul General of Russian Federation Oleg N. Avedeev articulated that Russian Federation value the relationship with Pakistan which is cordial and strengthening with the passage of time. The Government-to-Government contacts are regular. Foreign Minister of both countries met recently. He stated that the diplomatic relations between two countries were excellent. There was no military cooperation existing however, the military dialogue in process.

He highlighted that a high profile Russian Business Delegation headed by Former Speaker of Russian Parliament and Head of Russian Business Council for Pakistan is arriving Karachi in the first week of October 2013 to explore new avenue of economic and commercial cooperation and bilateral trade prospects which will meet their Pakistani counterparts in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. He apprised that the Bilateral Joint Commission on Economic and Trade met in February 2013 in Islamabad and its next meeting is planned in November 2013 in Moscow. Intergovernmental Memorandum was also signed in the meeting at Islamabad. He hoped that outcome of Joint Commission’s Meeting in November 2013 at Moscow will bring productive results.

Pakistan Steel Mills is on the top of the list of projects under discussion. Besides the Bilateral Joint Working Group on Energy was also met and discussed prospects of cooperation to produce energy by coal and gas and revamping Power plants of Muzaffargarh and Kot Addu. He endorsed that Pakistan Steel Mills was the flagship of Pakistan-Russia Friendship and past cooperation between two countries; similar cooperation can be extended in many areas. He informed that visit of Russian President Excellency Vladimir Putin to Pakistan was postponed and new dates are not decided yet.

He informed about the huge demand of textiles and leather garments in Russia. Russian companies have also shown interest in reconstruction as well as modernization of large state owned enterprises in Pakistan. Cooperation in education is continued and Pakistani students can also avail Russian scholarships for postgraduate programmes. He observed lack of frequent business networking between the business communities of two countries was the drawback and reason for low volume of trade which must be abridged.

He stated that Russia may consider joining TAPI gas pipeline project if the respective countries may invite. Commenting on the stance of Russian President Putin over Syria, he stated that the Russian Federation believes war is not the way out and the world is finding diplomatic solutions to the problems. World has already seen what happened in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Syrians have to decide about the fate of Syria, he concluded.

Former President KCCI Majyd Aziz, Senior Vice President KCCI Shamim Firpo, Vice President Nasir Mehmood and Managing Committee Members also participated in the meeting.

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