‘Russia-Pakistan trade to reach $800 million by year-end’

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KARACHI: Trade Representative of Russia Yury Kozlov has said bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia improved to $660 million during 10 months of the current calendar year, and is expected to reach around $750 to $800 million by year-end.

There was huge potential to boost the existing trade volume between the two countries, but it has been improving at a slow pace 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 said during a meeting at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

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 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 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, KCCI President Junaid Esmail Makda expressed concerns over nominal trade volume of around $600 million in 2017 between the two countries, as Pakistan exported goods worth $280.69 million while imports increased to $310.94 million during the period.

Makda said oil and 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 turned around through Russian assistance,” he added. He said Pakistani food exporters can capitalise on the ban imposed by the Russian government on agricultural imports from European countries to enhance their exports to Russia. “Pakistan can export livestock, meat, apple, mango, citrus and seafood to Russian markets,” Makda said.

He further stressed the need to sign an MoU between the Karachi Chamber and Moscow Chamber which would improve business linkages, and bring business communities of the countries close to each other.

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