Alexey Dedov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
of the Russian Federation in Pakistan
Russia-Pakistan cooperation: current trends and prospects
Pakistan ranks high in the Russian foreign policy in the South Asia. It is evident when you look at the increased frequency of high-level official meetings as well as delegation exchanges between various ministries and agencies of Russia and Pakistan. Moscow and Islamabad actively interact in international organizations with our views on the core global issues coinciding or being very close.
Russia attaches particular importance to cooperation with Pakistan in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This body has gained much credibility and is rapidly evolving into a key element of the regional security architecture and a useful tool to carry out cross-regional economic, energy and infrastructure projects. Russia is providing extensive support to Islamabad in turning its observer status to a full-fledged membership.
It is encouraging that Russia-Pakistan cooperation in the fight against drugs has been gaining its momentum. We consider further engagement with Pakistan in this field as one of our utmost priorities.
Enhancement of trade and economic cooperation with Pakistan is also high on the agenda. Today we spare no effort to boost our partnership in economy, trade and finance. Our common task is to expand economic contacts to the level of an advanced political dialogue that we enjoy today. A current trade amount of 550 million USD apparently does not correspond to our potential.
Intergovernmental Commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Russia and Pakistan (IGC) is working hard to build business ties. The next meeting of the IGC will be held in Moscow later this year. We believe that working together in the IGC as well as in other bilateral mechanisms we will be able to take significant steps to implement our far-reaching projects. Now it is time to proceed from framework cooperation agreements to business contracts. The untapped potential is huge, particularly, in the metallurgical and energy fields, taking into account that these were founded with the assistance of Soviet engineers.
In this regard, Russia is willing to participate in reconstruction of the Karachi steel mills in accordance with the intergovernmental memorandum signed in February 2013. Unfortunately, we face certain difficulties in implementing this project. In particular, our legislation does not allow to provide government loans to a foreign country which has unsettled financial disputes with Russia. There still are financial counterclaims between our countries on compensation and freight payments of the Soviet period.
Early settlement of mutual financial obligations will open up excellent opportunities for comprehensive investment cooperation with Pakistan. We expect our concerned ministries and agencies to reach basic agreements in this field by the next IGC session.
Moscow welcomes the determination of Pakistani government to promptly respond to economic challenges of the country including acute energy crisis. Power shortage not only affects common people but also inhibits industrial growth and economic development.
Russian companies express their interest in entering Pakistani energy market. Particularly, they are engaged in negotiations on the project of conversion of the Muzaffargarh power house to the coal-fired station.
Our companies are ready to render their service in mineral exploration, developing offshore fields, building underground storage facilities and training personnel for oil and gas industries of Pakistan.
Besides, we consider regional energy projects such as CASA-1000 electricity transmission system to be of utmost importance. Russia has many times reiterated its readiness to contribute to its speedy realization in technical and financial terms.
It is necessary to build up cooperation in railway transportation; we already have the needed legal framework and business contacts. In October 2012 in Pakistan CJSC "Transmashholding" and the Ministry of Railways of Pakistan inked the Memorandum of Understanding which provides for cooperation in various fields including the manufacturing of locomotives. Early next year in Moscow the same parties signed a protocol of intentions for the delivery of Russian diesel locomotives and rolling stock in future.
We have ample opportunities to develop mutually beneficial partnerships in space industry and telecommunications.
Russia highly values friendly relations with Pakistan and is committed to strengthening ties and enhancing long-lasting cooperation to the benefit of our peoples.