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$17.2b food items import: Dar keen to enhance exports to Russia

$17.2b food items import: Dar keen to enhance exports to Russia

ISLAMABAD: Russian imported food-related commodities worth more than $39 billion in 2013, of which $23.5 billion worth exports fall in categories affected by EU bans on Russian. According to statistics, Russia, from the countries covered by sanctions, imports $17.2 billion worth of food which it will now import from other countries.

Following the opportunity, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has been striving hard pushing up exports, especially feeling encouraged after a recent Pakistan-Russia inter-governmental committee meeting wherein Russian companies showed interest in trading with Pakistan.

The finance minister has directed both the food and commerce ministries to chalk measures to capitalize on the opportunity. Following these instructions, both the ministries are preparing a plan to boost farm exports to Russia.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s current trade with Russia is about $550m which, given the existing potential, can be further enhanced. Pakistani potatoes and citrus fruits are already being exported. There is a big demand in Russia for seafood such as shrimps, prawns and shellfish and also for hard cheese and marbled beef. It may require special expertise to win space in the Russian market.

In September, a 20-member delegation of Pakistan fruit, vegetables exporters Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) led by Waheed Ahmed visited Russia to explore the prospects of export of fruits and vegetables in the wake of ban on imports of such items from Europe.

On return, they said they found Russian officials keenly interested in Pakistani commodities and were willing to extend preferential treatment to Pakistani exporters to have a sizable share in Russia’s $ 2 billion fruit and vegetable market.