ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia on Friday expressed their determination to remove all impediments in the way of finalising plans and projects already agreed upon.
In a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the third meeting of Pak-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Moscow, the two countries reiterated to cooperate with each other and encourage private entrepreneurs.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar led the Pakistan’s delegation while Russia’s was headed by Minister of Sport, Tourism and Youth policy Vitaly Mutko, who is also co-chair of the commission.
Both countries said they would cooperate in various projects related to oil and gas exploration; construction of floating LNG terminals, North-South gas pipeline from Gwadar to Nawabshah; sharing of seismic and geological data; enhanced oil recovery; LPG processing facility and gas purification plants; modernisation of oil and gas infrastructure; innovative technology solutions in coal industry; and building and renovation of various power generating units in Pakistan, especially those of Russian origin.
The two sides discussed cooperation in transnational energy projects, including CASA-1000 and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline.
Major Russian companies in the energy sector including Technopromexport, Rostec-Global Resources, Rushydro International, Power Machines, Inter RAO, United Engine Corporation, and Stochinsky Institute of Mining have shown keen interest in cooperation with Pakistan.
Dar hoped collaboration in trade, economy, science, technology, agriculture, education and culture will gain new impetus due to continuous high-level interaction. “We are moving forward in the right direction.”
Russia’s Mutko said both the countries enjoy strategic geographical locations and are endowed with rich human and material resources, which offer immense possibilities.
Separately, senior executives of the Russian bank VneshTorgovBank (VTB) met Dar, and offered a credit line of $1 billion for energy projects in Pakistan. They were also interested in visiting Pakistan for further financial transactions. Dar suggested that the bank should also participate in other projects besides energy.
A delegation of another Russian public-sector enterprise, Tyazhpromexport, headed by its First Deputy Director General Maxim Shabala, also held talks with Dar and reiterated its interest in rehabilitating and refurbishing Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). Russia has also shown willingness for another state credit line of $1 billion for the mill’s refurbishment.
The finance minister told the delegation that the government was working on divestment of 26 per cent equity in Pakistan Steel, hence the company should acquire the equity instead of extending loan to the PSM.
Dar assured the Russian side for early settlement of the issues of mutual claims and financial obligations and requested them to expedite a draft agreement on the subject in accordance with the earlier agreed parameters.
The inter-governmental commission is the most important mechanism to comprehensively discuss all spheres of bilateral relations between the two countries, especially energy sector projects.
During the talks, Dar was assisted by Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal Khan, Board of Investment Chairman Miftah Ismail, Ambassador to Moscow Zaheer Janjua, OGDCL chairman and senior officials of ministries of finance, industries and production, and petroleum.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2014