ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia have agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in trade, aviation, economic and energy sectors and translate it into tangible investments in various sectors.
At the conclusion of the sixth session of the Pakistan-Russia Inter Governmental Commission (IGC) on trade, economic and scientific and technical cooperation here on Wednesday, the Russian side also promised to start negotiations on supply and after-sales service of 6-16 Sukhoi SuperJet-100 aircraft to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in the first quarter of 2020.
The two sides agreed to hold the 7th session of IGC in Moscow on mutually agreed dates. The IGC sessions are held alternately in the capitals of both the countries.
The sixth IGC session was held in Islamabad from Dec 9 to 11. Minister for Economic Affairs Mohammad Hammad Azhar led the Pakistani side, while Russian Minister for Industry and Trade Denis V. Manturov headed the delegation of his country.
Mr Manturov said the Russian side was currently examining the financial aspects of provision of 6-16 aircraft to PIA and expected formal negotiations between the two sides by the first quarter of 2020. He said his side was currently in the process of understanding what investment opportunities were available and how these could be materialised.
Mr Azhar said Russia had the greatest expertise in railway equipment that it was also exporting to European countries, while Pakistan’s railway was obsolete and in desperate need of its upgrade. He said Pakistan was keen to involve Russia to learn lessons, technology transfer, design capacity of locomotives and know-how about improved rolling stock and speed enhancement of locomotives and carriage.
Mr Azhar said Russia had helped Pakistan establish Pakistan Steel Mills and Guddu and Muzaffargarh power stations and the government wanted the visiting side look into upgrade of these units to the mutual benefit of the two countries.
The Russian minister said his country was interested in North-South Gas Pipeline and would be happy to assist Pakistan in capacity enhancement of Geological Survey of Pakistan, besides looking at investment opportunities in automobile and power sectors and Pakistan Steel.
The two sides expressed satisfaction over the current level of cooperation and agreed to further strengthen bilateral ties in all areas of mutual interest, including political, trade, economic, energy, education and people-to-people contact.
The economic affairs secretary briefed the IGC on recent economic developments and outlook and highlighted improved indicators of the Pakistani economy, especially current account balance. He apprised the Russian side of the successful implementation of IMF programme, bright future prospects of the Pakistani economy and huge potential of trade and investment between the two countries.
According to an official statement, both sides exchanged views on prospects of the mutual economic cooperation in multiple sectors, especially energy, trade, transport, industries and production, railways, agriculture and science & technology. Prospects of Russian investment for revival of Pakistan Steel Mills were also discussed.
The Russian side expressed keen interest in the energy sector such as North-South Gas Pipeline. Discussions were held on removing the temporary ban on Pakistan’s agriculture exports, including rice and potatoes, the statement said, adding that the two sides resolved to increase volume of bilateral trade from the present level to its true potential through greater cooperation and enhanced business activities by the private sector of both countries.
The Russian side invited Pakistan to organise a road show in Moscow to provide an opportunity to Russian private companies to explore new avenues in Pakistan.
Minister Azhar told the visitors that Pakistan held political, diplomatic and economic relations with the Russian Federation in high esteem and was happy to have recently settled long-standing issues relating to mutual financial claims between the businesses of the two countries.
The Pakistan side appreciated that Russia had supported Pakistan in laying the foundation for its industrial growth by extending support in establishing Pakistan Steel Mills and expressed firm resolve to continue such interactions at higher level to better understand the development needs, opportunities of cooperation and investment in the emerging sectors and remove obstacles in the way of trade and investment.
Meetings with PM, COAS
The Russian minister later called on Prime Minister Imran Khan who underlined Pakistan’s commitment to commence a new phase in the relationship with Russia.
Mr Manturov conveyed special greetings of President Putin to the prime minister, an official statement said.