Pakistan and Russia are getting closer. The enhanced level of engagement between the two sides in recent months is welcoming and indicates their interest to take their bilateral relations to next level. Following the landmark deal on petroleum products, the two countries have now signed a bilateral trade agreement aimed a facilitating and reducing costs of trade.
The protocol relating to customs cooperation between Ministry of Commerce and Federal Customs Services of Russian Federation is being termed as a vital legal framework for development of commercial relations. In addition to facilitating smooth movement of goods between Pakistan and Russia, the protocol also offers a substantial customs duty discount for Pakistani products upon entering the Russian market.
This indeed will give much needed impetus to Pakistani exports to the Russian federation. At present, Russia imports modest quantities of textiles and citrus and with the signing of new agreement, we believe, exports of these items as well as other items will witness a major boost. We have no doubt in saying that with the signing of latest agreement, both countries have laid the foundation of a strong economic partnership that will open new vistas of opportunities.
The fact of the matter is that there is immense scope of cooperation between the two countries in energy, industrial and agriculture sectors. For instance in energy sector, apart from building Karachi-Lahore gas pipeline, the Russian side can greatly help us in upgrading existing refineries as well as exploration of natural resources. Similarly, Russian companies can be invited to invest in Special Economic Zones being set up under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. Russian inclusion will definitely give confidence to other foreign investors as well to come to Pakistan and invest in the SEZs.
We need to build on the bilateral trade agreement to make economic partnership with Russia more strong and robust. For this to happen, both sides also need to enhance people to people contacts at different levels as this will lead to identifying more areas of cooperation that serve mutual interests.