ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar on Wednesday urged officials of Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Food Security and TDAP (Trade Development Authority of Pakistan) to urgently come up with plan for export of agricultural products to Russia aiming to enhance overall exports volume of the country and lessen current account deficit.

He also called upon prospective exporters to take advantage of the ban imposed by the Russian government on agricultural imports from European countries. Secretary, National Food Security and Secretary Commerce briefed the Minister on ways and means to enhance volume of agricultural trade with Russia and said they had already initiated measures to have export destinations in Russian for Pakistani food products. Finance Minister said Russia has been importing food items worth $35 billion from around the world, particularly European countries and the ban on imports is creating a space of $16 billion which is there to captured and “certainly we would like to have a share in this available market”, he remarked. Pakistan has a sturdy agriculture sector, which contributes 21pc share to the GDP. We can provide incentives to this sector to further prosper if we find new export destinations for our products, Dar remarked.

Ishaq Dar directed the Ministries of Commerce and National Food Security to coordinate and prepare a comprehensive plan identifying exportable food products, keeping in view whether surplus quantities and requisite quarantine arrangements were available. The Minister observed that quality standards should be considered in advance to ensure the success of the export plan. He emphasised that exports enhancement should not come at the cost of shortage for domestic consumers. Secretary Food responded that the export plan would take due cognizance of this factor. He also mentioned about a detailed programme for growth in agriculture products with a view to enhancing exports. He said surge in agricultural exports will encourage investment in the agriculture sector. The Minister said the programme would be extended due consideration.

Ishaq Dar further directed the Ministries concerned to prepare for the World Food Exhibition 2015 in Moscow and also arrange single country exhibitions to allure foreign exporters. Secretary Commerce at this juncture informed the Minister that Commerce Ministry was organising seminars in Lahore highlighting export opportunities to prospective businessmen and traders.