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Pakistan keen to acquire aeronautical products from Russia

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has shown interest in acquiring civil aeronautical products from Russia and to this effect, both the countries have decided to first sign the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) prior to reaching commercial deals. Russia will also help Pakistan in the field of metallurgy.

A 64-member delegation headed by Minister for Trade and Industries for the Russian Federation Denis V Manturov visited Pakistan for four days from December 8 to 11 to attend an Inter-Governmental Commission. The Pakistan-Russia three-day IGC meetings ended here on Wednesday with fruitful results.

The Russian side informed the Pakistani side on the status of implementation of the project of the MC-21 passenger medium range airliner and expressed interest in its supply, as well as in the promotion of the SSJ100 short-range aircraft and Yak-152 aircraft for primary training in Pakistan.

Pakistan expressed its readiness to study this information and in the case of its interest to send to Russia an official request to make comprehensive presentations of the aircraft. Denis Manturov also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in later part of the day.

Both the sides, during the IGC meeting, discussed in detail the avenues of cooperation in trade, economic, scientific, and technical areas in IGC meetings. The joint working group of both the countries on energy met on December 9 whereas working group on trade and industries met on December 10.

The official said that three Russian companies have agreed to revamp the Pakistan Steel Mills under g-to-g arrangement and the Russian companies’ consortium will conclude the agreement within the next six months and will make the PSM stand on its feet within the span of three years.

Pakistan was represented by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar. Both the countries noted an increase in volume of Pakistan-Russia bilateral trade over the last year. According to federal Customs Service of Russian in 2018, it increased by 35.4 percent and surpassed $732 million. In 2019, the trade volume decreased because of decline of Russian exports, at the same time import from Pakistan increased. In this context, both the countries agreed to continue efforts for enhancing Russia-Pakistan cooperation in sectors of trade and investment.

According to the protocol on industrial and transport sector signed here Wednesday, both the countries agreed to continue cooperation in the field of supply and after sales service of Russian civil aviation equipment in the interest of Pakistan state and commercial organisations.

As per a copy of the protocol available with The News, both the sides agreed to establish mutually-acceptable mechanism related to validation of exported civil aeronautical products. Russia requested Pakistan to consider a working arrangement on airworthiness or similar arrangement between Federal Air Transport Agency (Russian Federation, FATA) and Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) in support of export of Russian-made civil aeronautical products to Pakistan.

The Pakistani side informed that current PCCA does not have regulation or procedure to have specific working arrangements with other states and airworthiness. The PCCA agrees to consider FATA proposal for acceptance of aeronautical products on reciprocal basis. In this regard, both agencies will remain in coordination to discuss any alternative and legal provisions and enhance cooperation in the subject. The two counties noted significant potential of cooperation in the field of metallurgy.

Both the sides emphasised the necessity for holding second meeting of joint working group on trade and investment in 2020. The two countries also agreed to follow the agreements achieved during the experts’ consultation on trade, investment and industries held on December 10, 2019 in Islamabad.

The Russian side expressed its concern about imposition of provisional anti-dumping duties in imports of cold rolled coils, sheet and strips into Pakistan.

Pakistan also asked the Russian side to identify those companies for execution of multibillion dollar North-South Gas Pipeline project that were not under sanctions from the US, The News has learnt.

The North-South Pipeline is 1122-km project in length with a 42-inch diameter would annually transport around 12.4 billion cubic meters (bcm) of LNG from Karachi to Punjab. This project has been facing difficulties because the US had imposed sanctions on Russian firm involved in this project. The Pakistani side, the sources said, has been asking Russia from last couple of years to resolve this issue but now it was expected that some positive progress would be achieved in coming months. During the IGC meeting, Russia offered Pakistan to buy Sukhoi Super Jet planes for inclusion into state-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) fleet.

“We also requested Russian companies to construct manufacturing plants of tractors and harvesters in Pakistan,” said the top official sources after the meeting. On offer of buying Sukhoi super jets, Hammad Azhar replied that PIA was an autonomous institution but they would be informed about this offer. Russia also offered to get locomotives in order to modernise the Pakistan Railways.