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Russia, Pakistan cooperation to develop rapidly despite sanctions: CG

KARACHI: Consul General of the Russian Federation Andrey V. Fedorov has said that despite sanctions on Russia by the western countries, the cooperation between Russia and Pakistan will develop rapidly as there were a lot of unexplored business opportunities in Russia Pakistan bilateral economic cooperation which should definitely be developed.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), he hoped that that the current high level of bilateral ties between the two friendly countries will be sustained and the true bilateral potential will also be realized. President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, Vice President Haris Agar, Chairman of Diplomatic Missions and Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Zia ul Arfeen and KCCI Managing Committee Members were present on the occasion.

Highlighting numerous areas of cooperation between Russia and Pakistan, he said that although bilateral trade was mainly concentrated on commodities but there was a huge potential in other sectors as well particularly the energy sector. “Furthermore, Pakistan produces leather goods and sports equipment of very high quality and has huge potential in information technology sector in addition to being a major player in the pharmaceutical production and also surgical equipment which are the best in the world.”

Expressing Russia keenness to develop trade and economic cooperation with Pakistan, he said that 2023 was the year which marks 75 years of diplomatic relations between Russia and Pakistan and during all these years, there were ups and downs but recently the bilateral ties have strengthened. “In 2022, significant boost of 38.6 percent was witnessed in Russia’s exports to Pakistan as compared to 2021.”

Referring to recent talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries, he said that during these talks, the foreign ministers expressed willingness to enhance cooperation in a wide range of spheres including energy sector, fight against terrorists, trade and economic partnership, humanitarian, cultural and educational cooperation.

Keeping in view series of government-to-government interactions at the highest level, he was fairly optimistic about enhanced bilateral cooperation. “When friends meet at the negotiation table, lot of agreements can be reached. The only thing needed is wishes and wills from both sides which have been witnessed during meetings between Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers of the two countries.”

Earlier, President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, while warmly welcoming the Russian CG, stated that Pakistan and Russia have experienced many ups and downs in their bilateral relations, but mutual bilateral cooperation has strengthened economic relations, marked by enhanced govt. level talks between the two countries. “Despite friendly relations, the volume of trade is much below its potential as during the seven months of current fiscal year, Pakistan’s exports to Russia dropped by 45 percent to around $45 million compared to $82.34 million last year, which is a serious concern.”

He noted that Pakistan was close to a final agreement with Russia for the import of discounted crude oil and petroleum products. The 40-50 percent discounted energy deal if settled, could reshape Pak-Russia trade and bilateral relationship to a greater extent, allowing both countries to structure their ties more effectively. This agreement was very critical for Pakistan’s economic growth, which could resolve part of energy needs and create breathing space.

He stressed that Russian investors should enhance trade and investment cooperation in numerous sectors including the energy sector, construction and industrial machinery, mines, metallurgy, railways engineering, pharmaceutical products, fertilizers and chemicals etc.

“The visa regimes should be relaxed and made accessible for travelling for improving trade, economic integration and people to people contact between the two countries. Russian investors must also explore business opportunities in CPEC through investments and joint ventures in 10 special economic zones offering huge incentives for foreign and domestic investors”, he added.