Our Staff Reporter LAHORE Russian Consul General Andrey Demidov has said that Russia , for being top energy supplier in the world, is ready to extend cooperation to Pakistan for overcoming the energy shortages. The Consul General was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday. LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik, Senior Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad, Chairman Pakistan-Russia Business Council of FPCCI Farooq Afzal, LCCI Executive Committee Member Mian Zahid Javaid and former EC member Rehmatullah Javed also spoke on the occasion. The Consul General said that there were possibilities of cooperation in energy sector during the upcoming visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Russia scheduled for May 12 this year. Mr Andrey Demidov said that a great potential exists for Pakistani businessmen in Rice, Fruits, Pharmaceuticals, Sports goods, Leather, apparel, hosiery, hometextiles and fabrics therefore Pakistani businessmen should join hands with their counterparts in Russia . Elaborating the point, he said for fruits the Russian market size is US $ 5.77 billion out of which 80 per cent fruits are being imported. The market size for pharmaceuticals is US $ 14 billion with an annual growth of 11.4 percent and out of which 74 per cent are being imported by Russia . The Consul General said that in Russia $ 3 billion worth of sports goods are presently being imported and Pakistani sports goods manufacturers have a great possibility to expand their business. He said that same is the case with leather and apparels as Russia is importing $10 billion worth of leather goods and the worth of apparels is $21 billion. He urged the LCCI president to arrange sector-specific delegation so that the Pakistani businessmen could have first hand knowledge about the available opportunities in Russia . The LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik expressed his concern over insignificant share of Pakistan in total trade being done by Russia with other countries. We need to explore ways to smoothen the trade ties particularly making efforts to gradually increase the overall trade volume with special focus on closing the gap of trade deficit for Pakistan. Shahzad Ali Malik said that the business community is fully committed to play its due role to improve the situation. We believe that with the help of such interactions, the possibilities of bringing enhancement in trade can be explored. The LCCI President said that the massive population together with neighbouring countries, forms a potential market in the fields of textile & garments, rice, leather, sports goods, surgical equipment and pharmaceutical products etc. By accessing to some information related to trade inquiries, Pakistani businessmen can penetrate into Russian market considering countrys capacity of exports. He said that there lies a great potential to import power equipment, steel, urea, chemicals etc., from Russia while the oil and gas sector in Pakistan offers great opportunities to Russia which has the requisite expertise and technology in this field. Likewise, Russia can evaluate the possibilities of collaborating with Pakistan for mining of marble and granite as well. Shahzad Ali Malik said that both Pakistan and Russia should jointly look into the possibilities of organizing trade delegations and exhibitions in each others countries, as it has become the most effective tool of marketing strategy. There is also a need for a more proactive communication between the Chambers and Diplomatic Missions of the two countries. Major items of exports from Pakistan to Russia include cotton, fruits, nuts, cereals, manmade staple fibres, textile articles, technical & medical apparatus, sports goods, stone, cement, animal gut and leather goods. Whereas Pakistan imports cereals, iron and steel, fertilizers, paper & paperboard, rubber, copper, dried and frozen vegetables, machinery, organic & inorganic chemicals etc., from Russia .