Pakistan and Russia Joint Working Group (JWG) is set to meet for the second time on 26th February to discuss the potential opening of bank branches, direct cargo flights, signing a deal on civil aircraft and helicopters delivery, lifting of the ban on Pakistani rice and maintenance and repair of Pakistan’s railways.
Both sides have exchanged matters/issues of their interests and cooperation in different fields in the future. One outstanding issue that is often discussed is that Pakistani businessmen face is the strict Russian visa regime.
Counselor Section of Pakistan Embassy to Russian Federation works all five business days while the Counselor Section of Russian Embassy in Islamabad accepts visa applications only twice a week. This shows the behavior of Russia towards Pakistan.
During the first meeting of JWC, it was decided that both countries will encourage corporations and trade delegations to participate in exhibitions, bolstering the bilateral trade relations between the two countries. On the Pakistani side, businessmen visit Russia as trade delegations and participate in exhibitions. However, since the last meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) in 2017, no Russian trade delegations have visited Pakistan.
Pakistan is likely to propose the formation of a Joint Business Council (JBC), composed of both countries’ respective chambers of commerce. This will help strengthen ties between the business communities of both countries.
Another great hurdle in the prospering of the trade and tourism between both countries is the non-existence of direct passenger-cargo flight between Pakistan and Russia. Initiating this may incentivize greater travel and thus greater opportunities for both countries.
In B2B sector, Pakistani and Russian organizations may find opportunities for joint ventures in the textiles, food processing, surgical instruments, leather, and sports industry, especially in the Special Economic Zones. To facilitate this, Pakistan may propose the opening of Bank branches, correspondent accounts, and subsidiary accounts by the commercial banks in both countries.
Since May 2019, the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (FSVPS) of Russian Federation has imposed a temporary ban on the import of grain (mainly rice) from Pakistan. This ban is still in place despite the talks between FSVPS and Plant Protection Pakistan. The Pakistani side in JWG will urge the Russian delegation to look at this problem.
On the other hand, the Russian side has proposed that the current state of trade between the two countries be reviewed. They also sought cooperation between two countries in the sectors 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, the supply of organic fertilizers, power engineering, geological exploration works, training and professional development of Pakistani specialists in the sphere of oil and gas, and cooperation in the sphere of agriculture.
JWG will discuss inspection by FSVPS and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research of Pakistan to assess the system of veterinary supervision, production of animal vaccines, and assess enterprises in both countries producing products of animal origin.
All in All, cooperation in the areas of construction, modernization of transport networks like railways, 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 technology sector, including information and communication technology, an agreement in the sphere of international security, and developing an e-commerce platform for Pakistan Post.