FAISALABAD

The trade relations between Pakistan and Russia are growing satisfactorily at the government level. However, the private sector of two countries should also come forward to play role in giving a quantum jump to the bilateral trade, said ambassador of the Russian Federation.

Alexey Y Dedov was addressing a function organised by Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), which was also attended by leading industrialists, traders and exporters of the city. He said that Russia started a number of energy projects in Pakistan while an agreement was also signed to lay gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore and now the balance of trade is in favor of Russia. However, the trade volume is still low and therefore the business communities of the two countries should take necessary measures to exploit the available potential.

He told that a ministerial level meeting will be held in Islamabad later this year (Nov or Dec) to remove the bottlenecks hampering bilateral trade. He said that many Russian companies are already working in Pakistan while more are willing to invest in Pakistan as the situation in this country was improving considerably. Quoting the hurdles in bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia, he said that one of the major causes was unrest in Afghanistan. He said that Russia is importing wheat and kinnow from Pakistan and more commodities could also be imported provided the roads passing through Afghanistan are made safe and secure.

Regarding possibilities of MoUs, Preferential Trade Agreements (PTA) and Free Trade Agreements (FTA), he said that in this connection negotiations at the official level are required. However, as regards cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries, it needs reliable and credible banking system. He told that government of Pakistan was ready to open a branch of National Bank of Pakistan in Moscow which will have salutary impact on the promotion of bilateral trade between the two countries.

Regarding sanctions clamped on Turkey by Russia, he said that it provides a unique opportunity to Pakistani exporters to fill up this gap by making arrangements with their Russian counterparts particularly for the export of textile products.

The Russian ambassador also assured to provide a list of Turkish companies which have been banned for exports to Russia. He also assured cooperation for the exchange of trade delegations and organization of exhibitions in both countries.

Earlier, in his address of welcome, Chaudhary Muhammad Nawaz, President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), said that there are more than 5,000 members within the fold of this chamber. “They belong to all business sectors of the city including textile, pharmaceutical, confectionary, foundry, garments, chemical, ginning spinning, dairy products, agricultural engineering, information technology services, furniture, decorative paints and packaging industry etc.” He said that textile sector is the mainstay of its economy and out of total textile exports of 13 billion dollars Faisalabad is contributing 6 billion dollars. Similarly, Faisalabad is also ranked second in revenue generation after Karachi, he added.

Chaudhary Muhammad Nawaz said that Faisalabad Chamber has been trying its optimum best to develop direct business links with trade as well as business communities of the other countries and in this connection as many as 6 trade delegations have been sent to various international destinations during last few years.

Vice President Jameel Ahmed said that Pakistan and Russian Federation enjoy good economic relations since 1948. The trade volume between two countries in 2014 was $412.5 million. It shows that Pakistani exports were US$ 187.6 million against Russian imports of $224.9 million. Thus the balance of trade was in favor of Russia.

He said that there are vast prospects of expansion of bilateral trade including joint ventures in textiles, agro-based industry, live stock industry, leather goods, oil and gas, information technology and tourism.