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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia are all set to discuss potential of opening of banks branches, direct cargo flights, lifting of ban on Pakistani rice, deal on civil aircraft and helicopters delivery and maintenance and repair of Pakistani railways/transport.

These issues will be discussed at a meeting of Joint Working Group (JWG) scheduled for February 26, 2021 The sources said both sides have exchanged matters/issues of their interests and cooperation in different fields in future.

Sharing information about the meeting, sources said, Pakistani businessmen face visa issue as Russian business visa regime is very strict.

According to sources, Counselor Section of Pakistan Embassy to Russian Federation works all the five business days while the Counselor Section of Russian Embassy in Islamabad accepts visa applications only twice a week.

During the first meeting of JWG on trade and investment it was discussed that both sides will encourage participation of their companies in exhibitions as well as send trade delegations for the purpose of strengthening bilateral trade relations. Pakistani companies regularly participate in exhibitions in Russia and trade delegations also visit Russian Federation. However, since the last IGC in 2017, no trade delegation has visited Pakistan from Russia. Pakistan is likely to propose that Russian side may plan product specific Russian buying missions/delegations as well as visit of the members of regional chambers of commerce and industry to Pakistan. On establishment of Joint Business Council between Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Federal Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation , the sources said, at the moment there is no JBC between the two Federal Chambers; and if a JBC is established it will facilitate enhanced cooperation between the two organizations. According to sources, there is no direct passenger cargo flight between Pakistan and Russia which is a factor that hinders bilateral trade and tourism. Hence the possibility of initiating direct passenger and cargo flights will be proposed.

Pakistani and Russian companies through B2B contact may explore possibility of joint ventures particularly in the SEZs notably in textiles, food processing, surgical instruments, leather and sports industry. Pakistan will float the proposal on possibilities of opening of correspondent accounts, branches and subsidiaries by the private sector banks of the two countries.

The sources said, the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance of Russian Federation has imposed a temporary ban on the import of grain (mainly rice) from Pakistan since May, 2019. This ban is still in place despite exchange of information between the experts of FSVPS and Department of Plant Protection Pakistan. Pakistani team will urge Russian delegation for early resolution of this issue.

The Russian side has proposed review of the current state of trade and economic cooperation and sought cooperation in the sphere of industry and energy, delivery and maintenance of civil aircraft and helicopter equipment, modernization and repair of Pakistani railways transport, car deliveries, constructions and modernization of industrial facilities in Pakistan, metallurgical, chemical, pharmaceutical industry, supply of organic fertilizers, power engineering, geological exploration works, training and professional development of Pakistani specialists in the sphere of oil and gas, cooperation in the sphere of agriculture, veterinary and sanitary requirements for livestock products imports into Pakistan and vice versa.

Both sides will discuss inspection by the Federal Service for Veterinary, Phytosanitary Surveillance of Russian Federation and Ministry of National Food Security and Research of Pakistan to assess the system of veterinary supervision, production of vaccines for animals, and enterprises in each other’s countries producing products of animal origin.

Cooperation in the sphere of transport, construction and modernization of railways in Pakistan and organization of consultations on the draft agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and Pakistan on international road traffic and development of transport corridors and other relevant areas of cooperation. Russia has also proposed cooperation in the sphere of information and communication technologies and draft agreement on cooperation in the sphere of international security and e-commerce platform project for the Pakistan Post.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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