KARACHI: Trade Representative of Russia Yury Kozlov has said that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia improved to US$660 million during 10 months of the current calendar year which is expected to reach around US$750 to US$800 million by year end.
Although there was a huge potential to boost the existing trade volume between the two countries but it has been gradually improving mainly due to lack of direct banking channels, he said. “In this regard, the State Bank of Pakistan and the Central Bank of Russian Federation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in January 2018 but the progress was too slow as not much has happened since then therefore, the State Banks of both countries will have to act more energetically”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).
Deputy Trade Representative of Russia Ruslan Aliev, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Vice President KCCI Asif Sheikh Javaid, Chairman KCCI’s Subcommittee for Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Shamoon Zaki and Managing Committee members attended the meeting.
Yuri Kozlov informed that Russia was engaged in numerous projects and was cooperating with Pakistan in the construction of north and south gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore and also engaged in a project at Jamshoro Power Plant for production of 600MW. “Russia had offered assistance in the expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills while Russia’s Gazprom has also shown interest in financing Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project”, he added.
While handing over CDs carrying presentations of 200 Russian companies and details of the exhibitions scheduled to be staged in Russia throughout the year, he said that all these Russian companies were keen to explore opportunities in Pakistan whereas the business and industrial community of Karachi Chamber should look into the possibility of participating in numerous trade exhibitions in Russia.
He further asked KCCI to send a trade delegation to Russia with a view to enhance the existing trade and investment cooperation between the two countries. “We are not much interested in hosting trade delegations from Business Councils or Forums but would like to see a business delegation from KCCI so that you could explore trade opportunities and improve ties with Russian counterparts”, he added.
Earlier President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, in his remarks, expressed concerns over nominal trade volume between the two countries which stood at around US$600 million in 2017 as Pakistan exported goods worth $280.69 million while the imports increased to $310.94 million during the said period. “Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia is expanding but at a relatively slow pace and present trade volume does not reflect true trade potential between the two countries”, he added.
Highlighting the potential areas of enhancing cooperation between Pakistan and Russia, Junaid Makda said that oil & gas sector and heavy industries were the two promising areas for Russian investors. “Pakistan Steel Mills, which has unfortunately become the dark side of Pakistan’s economy with zero production, can be turnaround through Russian assistance”, he added.
He further said that Pakistani food exporters can capitalize on the ban imposed by the Russian government on agricultural imports from European countries in order to enhance their exports to Russia. Pakistan can export livestock, meat, apple, mango, citrus and seafood to Russian markets, he opined.
He further stressed the need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Karachi Chamber and Moscow Chamber which would improve business linkages and bring business communities of the countries close to each other.