Russia agrees to suspend debt service for Pakistan

Both countries also in agreement to strengthen energy cooperation, reaffirm reaffirm commitment to strong economic tiesAyaz Sadiq says 8th IGC to lay foundation of Pak-Russia ‘new relations’

By: News Desk
Published: 02:30 PM, 20 Jan, 2023
Minister for Economic Affairs, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has said that the 8th Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) would lay foundation of a ‘new relationship’ between Russia and Pakistan in different sectors including energy,
Caption: Ayaz Sadiq and members of Russian delegation address a news conference in Islamabad.
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The Russian government has agreeed to suspend debt service for Pakistan during this critical time as the 8th session of Pakistan-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation concluded in Islamabad on Friday, reaffirming the commitment to a strong and comprehensive bilateral economic relationship.

The three-day IGC meeting, co-chaired by Russia’s Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov and Pakistan’s Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq, was attended by senior level delegates including ministers and officials from both sides.

The two sides, working under leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Russian President Vladimir Putin, “took the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to a strong and comprehensive economic relationship,” said a joint statement issued after the IGC meeting. They reiterated that such a relationship contributed to the economic well-being of the two countries, as well as the region.

Both the sides proceeded from the discussions and decisions of the seventh IGC and carried the process forward, as well as explored additional avenues of cooperation.

The IGC agreed to further strengthen and enhance collaboration in the fields of trade and investment, energy, communication and transport, higher education, industry, railways, finance and banking sector, customs, agriculture, science and technology, and information technology.

Both the sides observed and noted “positive prospects for implementable and concrete projects in above-mentioned sectors of economy with a huge potential for the socio-economic development of both countries.”

The commission agreed that the relevant ministries and departments from both sides would vigorously follow-up to exploit this potential for common prosperity.

The two sides agreed that after consensus on the technical specifications was achieved, the oil and gas trade transaction would be structured in a way it had mutual economic benefit for both countries. ”The process to be completed within March 2023.”

They decided to strengthen energy cooperation, enhance energy trade and broaden energy infrastructure investment based on strategic and favourable commercial terms.

The commission also agreed to work on a “Comprehensive Plan for Energy Cooperation”, which would form the foundation for future work and was to be finalized in 2023.

The IGC agreed that Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project should be considered in terms of a comprehensive infrastructure which was economically viable for sustainable gas infrastructure development ensuring affordable gas supplies.

The Russian side was invited towards potential projects of the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan, including in PPP mode and requested the Russian businessmen to explore these possibilities.

“The both sides have resolved the pending issues related to exchange of information on certificates of origin of goods with the use of electronic verification system and shall endeavor to finalize the above-mentioned protocols by the end of May 2023,” the joint statement said.

The commission decided to nominate focal persons from both sides to enhance mutual cooperation and discuss issues concerning connectivity and logistics in Central and South Asia.

The two sides also agreed to take necessary measures to increase bilateral cooperation in science, technology and higher education especially academic linkages, collaborative and impactful research, training and development and learning, besides enhanced interest of Pakistani citizens in education in the Russian Federation.

They discussed innovative ways of doing business, including through barter and agreed to explore the option further. In the context of the desire of both parties to promote regional integration and Eurasian connectivity, the two sides agreed to share information towards developing and improving rail and road infrastructure.

On last day of the IGC meeting on Friday, the two sides signed an agreement regarding cooperation and mutual assistance in customs related matters between the two countries; a protocol on exchange of documents and data on customs value of goods transported and a working agreement on airworthiness of aeronautical products.

Foundation of 'new relationship'

Minister for Economic Affairs, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has said that the 8th Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) would lay foundation of a ‘new relationship’ between Russia and Pakistan in different sectors including energy, economy, trade, technology, education and business to business transactions.

Addressing a news conference at the conclusion of the three-day IGC meeting in Islamabad on Friday, Ayaz Sadiq said during these days subjects of mutual interests had been discussed, ranging from rail transportation, food security, aviation, education, oil and gas, natural resources, finance, opening of financial arrangements between the two countries and many other subjects.

He said “a few agreements of mutual cooperation would be signed and some of them were in the pipeline. ”Follow-up of these developments is going to be a key factor in implementation of these projects,” he added.

The minister also expressed gratitude for Russian government for agreeing to suspend debt service for Pakistan during this critical time. He also appreciated international community for helping the affected communities [affected by recent floods] of Pakistan. However, much more was needed to be done for rehabilitation of the people, he added.

Working groups in diverse fields

Earlier, the Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) of Pakistan and Russia continued deliberations and reached an agreement to form working groups and further the existing cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields including energy, oil and gas.

The 8th three-day meeting of the IGC, which started here on Wednesday, reviewed the areas of cooperation and looked into ways and means of exploring new opportunities for strengthening bilateral relations.

Experts of the two countries held technical sessions and debated on possibilities to further deepen bilateral cooperation in trade and investment; agriculture; energy; industry; education; science and technology; information and communication technologies; finance, customs and communication, besides roads, postal service and railways.

The Russian side observed that the energy sector was the main focus because its Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov was himself leading the negotiations.

The two sides have decided to move forward together in the field of energy, and Pakistan would get the benefit of Russian expertise in the oil and gas sector.

The visiting delegation also suggested Pakistan take benefit of Russia’s expertise in the field of science & technology and research.

On the last day of the meeting on Friday, there would be a main discussion on the implementation of the gas pipeline construction project titled “the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP),” oil and petroleum products delivery to Pakistan, Russian-Pakistani financial cooperation, implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the seventh meeting of the commission, besides cooperation in different sectors, before signing of the final protocol, as per the shared schedule.