Russia seeks stronger trade-ties with Pakistan

By Staff Reporter
Sunday – December 15, 2019
ISLAMABAD: On Thursday, questioning the significance of Russian industry and trade minister Denis Manturov visit to Pakistan, Russian foreign office (FO) spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded, “We have a high opinion of the talks and the work of the delegation headed by Manturov in Pakistan.”

According to official statements, she continued, “As you well know, the FO coordinates this country’s multi-vector foreign policy activities, and it has contributed to the preparatory process” stressing “This is not some outsider agency, it is part of our executive branch; therefore it will be somewhat incorrect to provide some independent assessment because this is part of the Russian government.”

Zakharova concluded, “We can state that dialogue between our countries continues to develop very constructively, and relations in various fields are also expanding dynamically.”

Earlier, the Russian industry and trade minister Manturov called on prime minister (PM) Imran Khan, on Wednesday, whereat PM Khan underlined Pakistan’s commitment to commence a new phase in the relationship with Russia.

Manturov conveyed special greetings of Russian president Vladimir Putin, which were warmly reciprocated by the PM, he recalled his extensive interaction with president Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) council of heads of state in Bishkek in June 2019, in which the two leaders had a fruitful exchange of views.

PM Khan hoped that president Putin will visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience. Noting positive developments in Pakistan-Russia relations, the PM expressed the hope that the two sides will further enhance cooperation in the fields of energy, oil and gas, mineral sector, metallurgy, railways, aviation, IT, agriculture and education.

He highlighted the improved macro-economic stability and business climate and ease of doing business in Pakistan and noted that there were vast opportunities that the Russian companies could utilise for enhanced trade and investment.

Russian industry and trade minister Manturov briefed the PM on the range of subjects discussed during the 6th session of Pakistan-Russia intergovernmental commission (IGC) held earlier during the day.

He affirmed Russia’s desire for stronger ties with Pakistan and agreed that vast potential existed for enhancing bilateral cooperation in energy, aviation, industry, railways and agriculture sectors.

During the meeting, the importance of leadership exchanges was emphasised. The PM stated that he looked forward to his visit to Russia during 2020.

Separately, the 6th session of Pakistan-Russia IGC was held in the federal capital, from December 9-11, the economic affairs (EA) minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar, as co-chair led the Pakistani delegation on the plenary session of the IGC held on Wednesday.

Russian industry and trade minister Manturov, as co-chair led the Russian delegation. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the current level of cooperation and agreed to further strengthen bilateral ties in all areas of mutual interest including political, trade, economic, energy, education and people-to-people contact.

The EA minister briefed the forum about the recent economic developments and outlooks and highlighted improved indicators of Pakistani economy especially current account balance.

He further apprised the Russian side of the successful implementation of international monetary fund (IMF) programme, bright future prospects of Pakistani economy and huge potential of trade and investment between the two sides.

Both sides exchanged views on the prospects of the mutual economic cooperation in multiple sectors especially energy, trade, transport, industries and production, railways, agriculture and science and technology.

The prospects of Russian investment for revival of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) were also discussed. The Russian side expressed keen interest in energy sector such as north south gas pipeline.

Discussions were held on removing the temporary ban on Pakistan’s agriculture exports including rice and potatoes. Both sides resolved to increase volume of bilateral trade from the present levels to its true potential through greater cooperation and enhanced business activities by the private sector of both the countries.

The Russian side invited Pakistan to organise a road show in Moscow to provide an opportunity to the Russian private companies to explore new avenues in Pakistan. Pakistani side on the other hand invited Russia for their presence in trade expos held in Pakistan.

The Russian side was apprised that Pakistan holds the bilateral and economic relations with the Russian federation in high esteem which is evident by the recent settlement of the long standing “settlement of mutual financial claims” between the two countries.

The Pakistan side appreciated that Russian had supported in laying foundation for its industrial growth by extending support in establishing the PSM and expressed firm resolve to continue such interactions at higher level to better understand the development needs, opportunities of cooperation and investment in the emerging sectors and remove any obstacles in trade and investment.

The 7th session of IGC will be held in Moscow on mutually agreed dates.

From Pakistan side, economic affairs division (EAD) secretary, foreign secretary and senior representatives from the FO, commerce, energy, national food security and research, industries and production, planning, development and reforms, aviation, federal board of revenue (FBR), board of investment (BoI), railways, petroleum division and power division participated in the IGC.

Separately, the Russian industry and trade minister Manturov called on chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the general headquarters (GHQ), in the garrison city, on Wednesday.

According to an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement, during the meeting matters of mutual interest were discussed. Both reiterated the desire to further enhance bilateral relations for peace and stability and economic prosperity of the region.