INN, Friday 05th May, 2006
Federal Cabinet approves finalizing Of FTA with Russia
ISLAMABAD: Federal Cabinet has approved finalizing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Russia and Ministry of Commerce has started working out the procedures in this regard, sources told on Tuesday.
Sources said that federal cabinet has given formal approval to finalize FTA with Russia in its meeting and all the stakeholders regarding the ministry of Finance, Commerce, Central Board of Revenue and Ministry of Production also gave nod in this regard.
They said that the FTA was proposed to articulate in the last month (APRIL) but the procedures and areas of interest where to finalize hampered the way to move ahead.
"Russia has asked Pakistan to recommend the areas of interest and ministry of commerce is working with immediate effect and the Pakistani delegation soon will visit to Russia to negotiate so that the agreement could be finalized," they said.
Sources said that Russia had approached Pakistan in sometime in March 2005 to enhance trade relations between two sides and Pakistan has given positive indications to enter into further trade relations that will lead to FTA. Pakistan in its response had said that Russia is on top agenda regarding trade relations between two countries and will make all out efforts to boost bilateral trade that will help materialize the FTA between two countries.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz,s visit to Russia also resulted in leveling the way to FTA between Pakistan and Russia,"sources said.
Sources added that the nod on (FTA) agreement between Russia and Pakistan is the follow up of the President General Pervez Musharraf’s three-day visit to Russia, the first visit by a Pakistani president in some two decades in 2003.
During president visit, Russia and Pakistan signed three relatively insignificant agreements on security, cultural and diplomatic cooperation. The agreement on cooperation between the two interior ministries is understood to be a typical deal, identical to Russia’s agreements with other nations. Cultural agreement includes a draft on bilateral cultural exchanges in 2003-2006. The third accord established exchanges of trainee diplomats.
Pakistan had hoped to secure other agreements with Russia, notably on trade and energy exploration. In July 2002, Pakistan and Russia reportedly inked a memorandum of understanding in Moscow to allow Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom to join a planned project to build US$3.2 billion gas pipeline from Iran to India. The agreement also envisaged Russian assistance for converting Pakistani diesel vehicles to the compressed natural gas mode.
In year 2002, the total volume of two-way trade between the two countries reached $83 million, but heavily in favor of Russia as that country’s exports amounted to $71 million. By comparison, Russia and India, Moscow’s traditional partner and Islamabad’s nuclear arch-rival, traded goods worth more than $1 billion last year.