LAHORE - Russia will discuss a significant expansion of trade, including an increase in halal meat exports, with Pakistan’s Punjab province, trade officials said Tuesday.

Russia’s Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Y. Dedov will meet business leaders and officials of the Punjab Board of Investment and Trade in Lahore today [Wednesday] to explore joint ventures from leather goods and textiles to automobiles and pharmaceuticals.

The Russian Federation is a market of great potential for Pakistan – There is demand in Russia for Pakistani leather, sports goods, surgical equipment, textile, garments, rice and pharmaceuticals, while Russian power equipment, steel, urea and chemicals are sought after in Pakistan.

PBIT Chairman Abdul Basit, who is also chairman of Big Bird Group, yesterday told The Nation the visit could open the door to Russia’s vast market for Punjab’s halal meat producers.

Pakistan is the world’s 18th largest producer of halal meat in a global market valued at $ 300 billion. He believes Pakistan could do better. It has more than 160 million quality live stock including 70 million big animals and 90 million goats and sheep. The meeting is part of a wider, ongoing dialogue in which Pakistan is also seeking Russian expertise to revive Pakistan Steel Mills.

Abdul Basit said that Russia could evaluate the possibilities of collaboration with Pakistan in marble and granite mining too. Oil and gas is another sector where Russia’s experience and technology could help Pakistan.

Information minister Pervaiz Rashid is currently in Russia to explore new collaborations between the two countries.

“Both Pakistan and Russian businessmen can enter into joint ventures to benefit each other in their respective businesses, driving bilateral trade to new heights,” said Abdul Basit.

“Russia has a lot to offer to the business community of Pakistan, who can learn a lot from Russia’s technological up-gradation in industry,” he added.

Russia had in the past helped Pakistan promote its steel and power sectors including Pakistan Steel Mills Karachi, Guddu thermal power station, Jamshoro power station and Kot Addu Thermal Power Station. Russia also provided iron and fertilizer.

The future lies in Asia as the economies of Asian countries are developing at a rapid pace, Abdul Basit said.