ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the Russian Federation have agreed to strengthen bilateral ties in all areas of mutual interest, including political, trade, economic, energy, education and people-to-people contacts.
The agreement was made during a plenary session of 6th Pak-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.
Economic Affairs Minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar led the Pakistani delegation while Russian Federation Industry and Trade Minister Denis V Manturov headed the Russian side.
The Pakistan delegation comprised of economic affairs secretary, foreign secretary and senior representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, commerce, energy, national food security & research, industries & production, planning & development, aviation, railways, petroleum & power, Federal Board of Revenue and Board of Investment.
Hammad Azhar briefed the forum about recent economic developments and highlighted the improved indicators of the Pakistani economy, especially with regard to the current account balance.
He further apprised the Russian side of the successful implementation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, the prospects of Pakistani economy and the huge potential of trade and investment between the two sides.
Both sides exchanged views on the prospects of mutual economic cooperation in multiple sectors, especially energy, trade, transport, industries and production, railways, agriculture and science & technology. Prospects of Russian investment for the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills were also discussed.
The Russian side expressed a keen interest in Pakistan’s energy sector, particularly the North-South Gas Pipeline.
Discussions were also held on removing the temporary ban on Pakistan’s agriculture exports, including rice and potatoes.
Both sides resolved to increase the volume of bilateral trade from the present level to its true potential through greater cooperation and enhanced business activities between the private sectors of the two countries.
The Russian side invited Pakistan to organise a roadshow in Moscow so as to provide an opportunity to the Russian private companies to explore new avenues in Pakistan. The Pakistani side, on the other hand, invited Russia to have its presence in trade expos held in Pakistan.
The Russian side was apprised that Pakistan held bilateral and economic relations with the Russian Federation in high esteem which was evident by the recent settlement of the longstanding “Settlement of Mutual Financial Claims” between the two countries. The Pakistan side lauded Russia for helping the country lay the foundation for its industrial growth by extending support in establishing the Pakistan Steel Mills and expressed firm resolve to continue such interactions at a higher level to better understand the developmental needs, opportunities of cooperation and investment in the emerging sectors, and removal of obstacles in trade and investment.
The 7th session of IGC would be held in Moscow on mutually agreed dates.
Meanwhile, addressing a press briefing following the session, Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar informed that Pakistan and Russia have agreed for a joint venture to enhance cooperation for the modernisation of Pakistan Railways.
“I believe that Russia has the required expertise in the sector, and we will expand the cooperation to introduce modern locomotive in local trains in order to resolve the issues of design and speed of trains,” he added.
The minister said that relations between Pakistan and Russian have now entered in a new phase of development with a focus on new avenues for economic integration and business-to-business ties.
“We are negotiating Russian investment in the local market and the government has invited them to bring investment in the mines sector.”
Speaking on the occasion, Russian Federation Industry and Trade Minister Denis V Manturov said that Pakistan and Russia were committed to enhancing bilateral trade with a particular focus on aviation, professional training and capacity building of the local industrial sector.
He said that Russian investment groups were keen to invest in the pharmaceutical sector, medical machinery and aviation.