ISLAMABAD: The Minis­try of Commerce has evolved a strategy for a share in the agriculture and food market of the Russian federation and in this regard five products including citrus varieties, potato, rice, dairy products and tobacco have been identified for exports.

Talking to Dawn an official of the ministry said a business delegation of leading food exporters will visit Russia by end of January.

The delegation will interact with Russian buyers to identify the routes and mode of payment during the period of US trade sactions on Russia.

Read: Russian response sought on trade issues

Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $419.34 million in 2013-14 as against $484.47m in the previous year, reflecting a decline of $65.13m or 13.45 per cent. The decline is mainly driven by falling Pakistan’s exports to Russia, which fell by 10.36pc during the period under review.

Also read: Russia-led trade bloc begins in troubled times

Currently, Pakistan’s major export items to Russia include woven cotton fabrics, fruit and fruit preparations, synthetic fabrics, rice all sorts, articles of apparel other than textile material, vegetables, medical and surgical instruments.

According to a ministry document, Russian food and agriculture imports stood at $43 billion last year. The major imports include beef products, dairy products, citrus, tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, fish, apples, pears etc.

Also read: Trade row with Russia to be resolved soon

Pakistan’s average exports of citrus to Russia stood at $41.779m in the year 2013-14, a 2.480pc share in the total imports of Russia from the global imports of citrus which stood at $1.60bn.

“Russians have taste for seedless varieties of citrus,” the official said. He added the demand for Pakistani citrus is on the rise but it needs proper marketing and facilitation to exporters.

Major exporters of citrus to Russia include Turkey ($431m) and Spain ($103m). The rest of the exports are shared by Morocco, Egypt, South Africa and China.

Also read: Russian bank offers $1bn credit line to Pakistan

The second potential item is potato. Its exports to Russia stood at $16.182m, a share of 6.933pc in the Russian total imports of potatoes. There is a great potential in export of potatoes to Russia once Pakistan improves its quarantine and quality standards.

The leading exporters of potatoes to Russia are Egypt ($233 million), the Netherlands ($27 million). Other exporters include China and Azerbaijan.

Rice is another product, of which Pakistan is the 4th largest exporters to the world. Russia has imposed ban on imports of rice from Pakistan in the year 2011 but it was lifted in April 2012. This decision has led to a loss in share of Pakistan’s exports of rice to Russia and diverted the trade to India.

The official said that exporters will be facilitated to enhance rice exports to Russia. Currently, Vietnam is the major exporter of rice to Russia followed by Thailand and Myanmar.

Russian imports of dairy products stood at $4.3bn, alone $3bn from the Euro­pean countries. Russia im­­p­orted $2.2bn cheese and curd.

“Pakistan is one of the leading milk producers in the world and has a fair chance of grabbing value added exports of dairy products,” the official added.

Pakistan’s export of tobacco stood at $1.380m, which is 0.119pc share of the Russian total imports. The share in frozen vegetables exports is 1.020pc ($1.06m) of the total Russian global imports.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2015

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