ISLAMABAD - Russia considers Pakistan an important country of the region as it has great economic potential and wants to increase bilateral trade and cooperation with Pakistan in diversified areas of economic activity. Strong bilateral trade and larger cooperation between Pakistan and Russia would bring prosperity and integrity to the region.

This was observed by Yury M. Kozlov, Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in Pakistan while addressing business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry during his visit to ICCI. 

He said Russia eyes Pakistan as a significant market and many Russian investors are taking interest to explore Pakistan for joint ventures and investment. He said previously Russia participated in some big projects in Pakistan including Pakistan Steel Mills and now there is a renewed interest to enhance trade and economic ties with Pakistan in multiple areas.

Yury M. Kozlov said negotiations are in process with Pakistan for energy projects and cooperation in science & technology. He said a Russian company has already offered $1 billion financial and technical assistance for rehabilitation and upgradation of Pakistan Steel Mills. He said Russia is also ready to implement 500-600MW coal-fired thermal power projects near Muzaffargarh and Jamshoro and also to modernise and convert some other power projects in Pakistan to coal.

He also briefed the local businessmen about the upcoming trade exhibitions in Russia and invited them to participate in these exhibitions for exploring new areas of business cooperation.

Speaking at the occasion, Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said Pakistan is now focusing on Central Asia for trade and exports and developing strong economic relations with Russia is vital for tapping huge markets of this region. He said Pakistan is occupying a key economic location in the region and Russia should provide support to Pakistan to get the membership of Shanghai Cooperation organisation.

He said the bilateral trade of $542 million between the two countries is far less as Pakistan and Russia have the potential to take bilateral trade up to $4 billion for which serous efforts are required to be made by both sides.

He said many Pakistani products including food, fruits and vegetables, livestock, leather products, surgical equipment and sports goods have the potential to meet Russian consumers’ needs and private sectors of both countries should be facilitated for direct contacts to tap all untapped areas of mutual cooperation. He stressed for direct air flights between Islamabad and Moscow and soft visa policy for promoting trade up to potential.

He said Russia is the third largest textile importing country of the world importing textile products of $20 billion annually and Russian textile importers should avail quality textile products of Pakistan, which are very competitive and affordable. He said the present government in Pakistan is determined to undertake big infrastructure development projects including roads and railway network and invited Russian investors to take active part in these projects.