Russia plans to increase the volume of bilateral trade with Pakistan to the 2008 level of $ 600 million, Consul General of Russia Andrey V. Demidov has said. “Still we plan to reach the level of US $ 600 million by the end of 2012,” Demidov told a gathering organized by the Asian Union Forum (AUF) here.
Present among others were Patron-in-Chief Justice Said-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, Chairman Waseem Yasin, Secretary General Tariq Shadab and members of the AUF’s executive committee. “We were and are prepared to cooperate with Pakistan in different spheres and primarily in commerce and in economy,” he said.
In the last two decades of the 20th century the cooperation between the two countries remained on a very low level, he recalled. “The bilateral trade volume in 1980 was US $ 95 million only and in 1990 – 138 mln. These figures were negligible,” said the consul general. He said the record high volume of bilateral trade, about $ 600 million, was reached in 2008.
“But later we experienced the effects of the World financial crises and the volume of trade dropped to the level of US $ 300 mln in 2009,” he said. Demidov said he had already mentioned a very good example of mutually beneficial cooperation that was the Pakistani Steel Mills. The project was inaugurated more than 30 years ago. And it was still operational. The machinery built in the Soviet Union, although old, was still working without any serious technical problem.
Nevertheless, the Pakistani Steel Mills needed to be upgraded, he said. The new machinery was to be supplied and fit in. The production level was to be brought up. “And we are prepared to come and to modernize the project. About four years ago we presented the management of the Steel Mills with a detailed plan of upgrading the production to the level of 3 million tons. This plan is still under consideration by our partners,” the consul general said.
In this respect, Demidov stressed his conviction that the follow-up of bilateral cooperation around the Pakistani Steel Mills could move forward the whole complex of our bilateral ties. “We know that Pakistan is experiencing energy deficit. But Russia is the world’s biggest energy supplier. Our assistance in the field of energy can be rendered in the form of oil and gas supplies. Our experts assisted the Iranians in bringing the gas pipeline to the Iran-Pakistan border,” said the Russian consul general. It had been announced that Russia had a plan to allocate $ 500 million for the upgrading of the Pakistani Steel Mills, he said.
Special agreements, he said, were underway on construction of a South Asian Electricity Trade and Development Project CASA-1000 and gas pipeline TAPI. Demidov said good prospects for fruitful bilateral cooperation could be found in the fields of railroads and highway construction, energy, coal mining and others.
A very important and a very fruitful sphere of bilateral cooperation was Russian possible participation in building irrigation projects in Pakistan.
“Russia has a very serious experience of using modern machinery in this field. In the past we built a lot of irrigation systems in Central Asia,” said he.
Both the parties can cooperate in the field of transport, building roads, railroads, bridges etc, including air transport. On May 5 this year, he recalled, a Russian-made passenger airplane of latest brand “Sukhoi Superjet” performed demonstration flights in the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, in the presence of officials from the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan.
“In our view the biggest prospects for the future development of mankind lie in outer space. Space is an inexhaustible source of energy, raw materials. And of course it is an important source of human knowledge. Russia now is an undoubtedly world leader in space exploration, in manned spaceflights,” Demidov said.
The two countries, he said, had already started cooperation in the space. In December 2001, a Russian missile launched into orbit a Pakistani satellite “BADAR-2”. In September 2012, the two sides witnessed the second session of Inter-ministerial Russian-Pakistani Commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation held in Islamabad.
“We can cooperate in the field of education that is in training of Pakistani students in Russian universities,” he said. Also, according to Demidov, the two countries had an intense political dialogue including regular contacts at the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the so called “Dushanbe Four”. “Both sides have regular consultations between foreign ministers,” he said.
The consul general said Russia and Pakistan had close approaches to main international issues. “This cooperation should be continued,” he said.
“Of course the moving forward closer with Russia is not and should not be the only option for Pakistan. We think that Pakistan should continue its long-time cooperation with the United States. And, undoubtedly we will only support Pakistan in its aspiration to maintain its time-tested all-weather friendship with China. What we want is to complement the existing cooperation with these nations. We wish to add what the listed nations could not and possibly do not want to give to Pakistan,” he said.
Russian businesspeople, Demidov said, were listed among quite fortunate ones. “But they are to be encouraged to come and to invest in Pakistan. They are to be invited to invest in Pakistan. In what way invited? Invited to business and investment exhibitions and fairs. Invited to take part in business forums, in talks and negotiations on specific projects,” he said.
He said his side was awaiting with keen interest the visit to Pakistan of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. “I would like to stress that the visit was not cancelled, it was postponed.
PSM to import iron ore from Iran
Chief executive officer of Pakistan Steel Mills is on a visit to Iran to discuss and secure supplies of iron ore from a less expensive and quick source of raw material to boost PS production. The spokesperson of the PS said that the main purpose of the visit is to explore possibilities of securing a continuous supply for the Steel Mills, IRNA News Agency Reported. The mill is experiencing difficulties in importing iron ore from Australia, Canada and Brazil as shipments take 50 to 60 days with a high freight compared to a 10-12-day cost-effective shipment from the neighbouring country. The spokesperson said the PS delegation would meet representatives of five Iranian companies and would also discuss possibility of barter trade, under which PS would supply metallurgical coke in exchange for Iranian ore.