Pakistan, Russia agree to boost energy cooperation

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The eighth session of Pakistan-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation concluded 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 the 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, communications and transport, higher education, industry, railways, finance and banking sector, customs, agriculture, science and technology, and information technology. Both sides observed and noted the 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 favorable 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.

“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 the 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.

After the three-day IGC meeting, while addressing the press conference, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Ayaz Sadiq said that an agreement regarding oil import between Pakistan and Russia will be reached by the next month of March. The Minister said that everything related to energy, including oil, is likely to be finalized soon, and in this regard, there is a possibility of increasing cooperation between the two countries in the future.

He said that all obstacles will be removed through mutual discussions in energy and other sectors. He said that three agreements were signed between Pakistan and Russia today after the negotiations. Ayaz Sadiq said that there is an agreement to increase Pakistan-Russia cooperation on customs matters and to share customs-related data between the two countries. Apart from this, cooperation agreement between Civil Aviation of Pakistan and Air Transport Agency of Russia
He said that the gas pipeline project between Pakistan and Russia was also considered. Apart from this, it was agreed to cooperate in the fields of energy, agriculture, finance, trade, investment and customs.

Meanwhile, addressing the press conference, the head of Russian delegation and Russia’s Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov said that there has been an encouraging discussion between Russia and Pakistan in the field of energy and oil. He said that the payment of oil import is likely to be made in friendly currency, for which negotiations are ongoing. He said that the talks will be finalized by the next month of March.