LAHORE: Pakistan and Russia are equally important for each other and both countries should strengthen cooperation in all economic sectors for mutual interests, said Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Malik Tahir Javaid.
Talking to the Embassy of Russian Federation in Pakistan Trade Representative Yury Kozlov, Javaid spoke highly about the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and highlighted the trade opportunities and economic potential of Pakistan.
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He said that Russian expertise in energy and engineering can help Pakistan grow in these sectors.
The LCCI president also said that Russia helped Pakistan in establishing Pakistan Steel Mills, which played a crucial role in the development of the country.
“Pakistan and Russia have been regular trading partners but the volume of two-way trade hardly reflects the actual potential of trade.”
The president was of the view that the balance of trade favours Russia and among the top importing and exporting destinations of Pakistan around the globe, Russia comes at 33rd and 28th places, respectively.
Referring to the recent trade figures, Javaid said that it is good to see that the volume of bilateral trade has improved after some years. In 2015, it was around $331 million, which went up to $403 million in 2016. This positive change was the result of increase in imports from Russia, which grew from $170 million to $258 million during that period.
He said that in contrast there has been a consistent decline in Pakistan’s exports to Russia. From 2013 onwards, exports dipped from $188 million to $161 million and ended up at $145 million last year.
The LCCI official was of the view that development of formal banking channels and direct flights between the two countries is the need of the hour as these steps will boost bilateral trade.
Talking about CPEC, he said the project is well on its way to completion and Gwadar Port has also become operational.
“We are glad to see that Russia has shown interest to be part of this mega project.”
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He further said, “We are optimistic that active collaboration between Pakistan and Russia in CPEC will definitely strengthen trade and economic ties. I think by developing private to private contacts, we can gradually increase the volume of bilateral trade and Pakistan would wish to achieve the favourable balance of trade with Russia.”
Also speaking on the occasion, Kozlov pledged to make joint efforts to enhance the volume of two-way trade.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28h, 2017.
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