ISLAMABAD           -        Pakistan and Russia on Wednesday agreed to increase volume of bilateral trade from the present levels to its true potential through greater cooperation and enhanced business activities by the private sectors of both the countries.

Both the countries resolved to further strengthen bilateral ties in all areas of mutual interest including political, trade, economic, energy, education and people-to-people contact. Sixth session of Pakistan-Russia Inter Government Commissions (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation was held in Islamabad. Hammad Azhar, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs as co-chair from Pakistan side led the Pakistani delegation on the Plenary Session of the IGC. Denis V Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, led the Russian delegation.

Addressing a press conference, the Russian minister extended cooperation to Pakistan to revive the country’s Steel Mills and enhance its productivity. He said Pakistan Steel Mills was established with the cooperation of Russian experts. He expressed interest in building geological capacity of Pakistan apart from building North South Gas Pipeline. Denis Valentinovich said Russia wants to cooperate with Pakistan in aircraft manufacturing sector. He said there are immense opportunities for cooperation in the field of agriculture.

Pakistan’s Minister for Economic Affairs said that Pakistan desires to transform relations with Russia into a strategic partnership. “There are tremendous opportunities to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, business to business relations and people to people contacts”. Sharing the economic situation of the country, Hammad Azhar said that Pakistan has reduced trade and current account deficits and consequently due to economic policies of the incumbent government. He also claimed that international organizations are recognizing Pakistan's economic stability.

Applauding the Russian offer to revive Pakistan Steel Mills, he said there is huge scope of cooperation between the two countries in energy sector. He urged the Russian companies to invest in oil and gas sector of Pakistan.

According to the official handout, Pakistan’s delegation comprises of Secretary, Economic Affairs Division, Foreign Secretary and senior representatives from Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Energy, National Food Security & Research, Industries & Production, Planning, Development & Reforms, Aviation, Federal Board of Revenue, Board of Investment, Ministry of Railways, Petroleum Division and Power Division participated in the IGC.

The two sides expressed satisfaction at 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

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs briefed the forum about the recent economic developments and outlooks and highlighted improved indicators of Pakistani economy especially current account balance. He further apprised the Russian side of the successful implementation of IMF Programme, bright future prospects of Pakistani economy and huge potential of trade and investment between the two sides.

Both sides exchanged views on the 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 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.

Both sides resolved to increase volume of bilateral trade from the present levels to its true potential through greater cooperation and enhanced business activities by the private sector of both the countries. The Russian side invited Pakistan to organize a road show in Moscow to provide an opportunity to the Russian private companies to explore new avenues in Pakistan. Pakistani side on the other hand invited Russia for their presence in trade expos held in Pakistan.

The Russian side was apprised that Pakistan holds the bilateral and economic relations with the Russian Federation in high esteem which is evident by the recent settlement of the long standing “Settlement of mutual Financial Claims” between the two countries.

The Pakistan side appreciated that Russian had supported in laying foundation for its industrial growth by extending support in establishing the 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 any obstacles in trade and investment. The 7th session of IGC will be held in Moscow on mutually agreed dates.