Pak-Russian relations are heading in the right direction on diplomatic front. However, a direct link between the business community of both the countries is needed to enhance bilateral trade, said Russian Ambassador Mr Alexey Yuri Dedov while addressing members of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Monday. He mentioned of the recent developments on political, parliamentary and diplomatic fronts and said that both the countries had close contacts, adding that negotiations were continued on various issues and problems. The Russian envoy pointed out that Pakistan was faced with severe energy crisis and steps on war-footings were required to overcome the crippling energy deficit.

Mr Dedov welcomed the FCCI proposals for enhancing bilateral trade and assured that the Russian Federation would give a serious consideration to these valuable and practicable suggestions for mutual benefit.

To a question regarding amounts of money stuck in Russian Banks, the ambassador emphasised that the issue had two-way dimension and could be resolved only through bilateral negotiations.

On the occasion, Russian trade representative Mr Yuri Kozlor shed light on huge opportunities for bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Russia and said that Pakistan Steel Mills and Gaddu (Muzaffargarh) Power Plant were example of this cooperation and close linkages. He said that Russian Federation could help Pakistan in the fields of geology, transport and Infrastructure development etc. He said that information about major Russian companies relevant to Pakistan were available on a website with their field of expertise. “We are also ready to give a presentation to the members of FCCI on their sector specific fields”, he informed.

Earlier, FCCI President Engineer Rizwan Ashraf welcomed the guests with a brief introduction of the Faisalabad and FCCI. He also spelled out the economic potential of Faisalabad, adding that huge reserves of iron ores had been discovered just 20 to 25 kilometres away from the city near Chiniot. “Russia has expertise in exploration and construction of mega project of steel mills”, he said and hoped that it would also helped Pakistan in setting up new steel mills by using iron ore. He also pointed out that approximately $20 million had been stuck in Russian Banks and this amount should be settled immediately to restore confidence of the exporters. It will also pave way for new business deals with the Russian importers, he added.

Habib Ahmed, Honorary Consular of Russian Federation said that Excellency Yuri Dedov was on a visit to south and central Punjab and his meeting with FCCI members would help him to fully realize the economic potential of Faisalabad. Quoting energy crisis, he said that trans-national projects such as CASA-1000 and TAPI gas pipeline were mega projects and Russia was willing to provide technical and financial support in addition to helping Pakistan in oil and gas exploration.

He said that law and order situation in Russia had now improved satisfactorily. “There are no mafias”, he said and added that businessmen could avail from the huge opportunities available in Russia with complete satisfaction of mind. He also proposed a Pak-Russian Trade Centre to further strengthen economic relations on long term basis.

MNA Rana Muhammad Afzal also attended the function on the special invitation of the FCCI and said that efforts were already being made to settle the trade related irritants. He said that Pakistan’s foreign policy was heading towards a major shift with a focus on the promotion of regional trade.

He said that Pakistan had an inherent edge in textile and could increase export of textile products to Russia. “Only selected parties have been allowed imports into Russia”, he said and opined that an open-door policy will not only generate healthy competition but also help in reducing the prices of imported items for Russian markets. During question-answer session Syed Zia Alamdar Hussian, Muzammal Sultan and Chaudhry Muhammad Asghar raised interesting and very informative questions.

Later, the FCCI President and MNA Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan jointly presented a souvenir to Ambassador Alexey Yuri Dedov. FCCI Senior vice president Nadeem Allahwala also gave away a shield to Mr Yuri Kozlor.