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Pakistan-Russia ties: bright prospects to build strategic relations

Russia’s extensive mineral and energy resources are the largest such reserves in the world, making it one of the world’s leading producer of oil, and natural gas globally

Pakistan and Russia relations are vital for the progress, prosperity, peace and development in the region. Pakistan needs Russian support in education, technical fields, energy, human development, tourism promotion as well as in defence. Pakistan sacrificed a lot in its fight against terrorism, extremism and hate mongers. It needs global support especially foreign investment to enhance its economic capability to generate employment for youth who are around sixty percent of its population. Both Pakistan and Russia missed excellent trade relations opportunities in the past and a huge mistrust was present between the two countries for decades. A lot of water has been passed under the bridge and there is a great sense present on both sides to forget past and look towards new realities and try to avail opportunities. Analysts find immense warmth towards this need and both sides are trying to develop long term relations and investment which is in the larger interest of people of both the countries. Strong bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia and larger cooperation in other areas is the need of time and is vital for the prosperity and integrity in the region. Current trade volume is far below than its potential. Serious efforts are required to enhance bilateral trade volume up to US$4 billion within couple of years.

Russia has long history of bilateral attitudes towards supply of services and transfer of technology to developing countries. There is dire need to boost trade and identify implementing blocks on the side of non-tariff barriers, technical barriers in the way of bilateral trade. It could be foreseen in the new developments that there could be a big share for the Russian federation in the mining and manufacturing of coal-based power generation. Last several years witnessed substantial expansion of contacts between both the countries; both at high and people-to-people levels. The current positive trends give two countries and people the opportunity to better understand each other to exploit the existence potential for mutual benefits. The sense of larger cooperation and mutual understanding which exists with Russia is of immense importance to Pakistan. It is interesting to note that Russia is the third largest textile importer of the world. So there is great potential for Pakistan textile industry and its products to be exported to Russia. These facts are providing tremendous opportunities for the promotion and development of textile trade between the two countries. The business communities of both the countries should avail these opportunities.

Russia exports chemical products, fertilizers, timber and paper, metal products etc. Pakistan exports to Russia textile and garments, rice, leather, spots goods, fresh fruits, surgical equipments and pharmaceuticals. Consumer goods market in Russia is of level of US$1,270 billion and if proper strategy is adopted, Pakistan could boost its consumer goods exports to Russia up to one billion dollars within a year. Government and private sectors should come forward to work jointly in providing trade facilities on a huge scale and to initiate dialogue with the Russian government to remove barriers. Since 1992 there have been more than 50 leadership and senior officials’ level exchanges between the two countries. Out of which 25 exchanges were either partly or purely related to enhance economic relations focusing on trade, investment and joint ventures.

According to ITC data Russian Federation exports 2,500 items. On the other hand Pakistan is located at highly important geographical location and with CPEC it’s important multiplied and Russia could enhance its trade enormously by joining hands with Pakistan.

An important global player in power game

During the last 60 years, Pakistan’s foreign policy and economic and business relations were American-centered but for the last decade things have much been changing and with the emergence of China as the economic superpower and now recent threats for Pakistan, the potential between Pakistan and Russia has increased many-fold. Pakistan now doesn’t need aid it need trade and investment and relations based on mutual respect with due honour and dignity. Pakistan could seek the help of Russia to integrate and boost its engineering sector as a shift in policy from aid to trade and to do persistent efforts to transfer technologies to Pakistan from advanced countries like Russia. Current textile exports from Russia are US$20 billion and this figure is self explanatory for Pakistan’s textile exports. A Free Trade Agreement and Pakistan-Russia Joint Chamber of Commerce’s formation could be fruitful to boost bilateral trade.

Russia is the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one eighth of the world’s land area, it is 9th most populous country with over 150 million people. Its capital Moscow is the largest city in the world. The Russian economy ranks as the 12th largest economy by nominal GDP, and sixth largest by purchasing power parity. Russia’s extensive mineral and energy resources are the largest such reserves in the world, making it one of the world’s leading producer of oil, and natural gas globally. The country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapon states, is a permanent member of UN Security Council enjoying veto power status.

Russia is a great power as well as a regional power and has been characterized as a potential super power. It is member of G20, The Council of Europe, The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, and World Trade Organization. It is also one of the five members of Eurasian Economic Union.

 

The visionary, dynamic and pragmatic leadership of Vladimir Putin

Under the visionary, dynamic and pragmatic leadership of Vladimir Putin, Russia is advancing smoothly in the horizon of global politics ad economy. Russia is trying to balance the world which became uni-polar after the collapse of Soviet Union. Putin is serving as president since 7th May, 2012, previously holding the position from 2000 until 2008 and from 2008 until 2012.

During his first presidency, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years and GDP measuring purchasing power parity increased by 72 percent. Russia maintains diplomatic relations with 191 countries and has 144 embassies.

The recent Russian display of interest in joining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) guarantee that Russia is ready for a long-term engagement with Pakistan. Pakistan on the other hand is ready to welcome any regional country including Russia to become a part of CPEC project and reap the fruits of this game changing endeavor, which would not only help change the destiny of regional states, but also aid in complementing international trade and cooperation around the world.

Apart from that, Pakistan, after analyzing the results of the first joint exercises and finding them to be very successful, sent a request to the Russian Defense Ministry with a proposal to coordinate a plan of events for 2017, which will include a series of joint exercises, exchange of observers and visits of high-ranking officials.

The world is witnessing a new dawn in Pakistan-Russia relations. Ignoring Pakistan is no longer an option for Russia. Pakistan is a nuclear power, an emerging economy with a population larger than that of Russia. It can prove to be a good strategic partner in South Asia and provide easy and affordable access to the warm waters of the south (an access Russia has always desired). Pakistan and Russia share security interests of similar nature. Both the states share multiple bilateral and multilateral forums where they voice their concerns.

For above mentioned reasons it is imperative for Pakistan and Russia to work in closer cooperation. But despite their will and desire to build better relations, there are obstacles to closer cooperation and Pakistan should be well cognizant of them. In the realm of international relations, there are no permanent friends and no permanent foes and for this reason Pakistan should work towards building good relations with Russia but Pakistan should also remain aware of political and geostrategic limitations of Russia. Pakistan should remain optimistic about improving Pak-Russian relations but should not over-estimate the amicable gestures by Russia. Pakistani and Russian security interests are increasingly intertwined, so Moscow cannot afford to ignore Pakistan. Both states should work in close cooperation to address newly emerging threats in the region.

ECONOMY
GDP (PPP): $3.862 trillion
GDP (official exchange rate) $1.283 trillion
GDP per capita $26,900
Exports $286.9 billion
Export partners China 10.6%, Netherland 10.3%, Turkey 5%, Italy 4.4%, Belarus 4.3%
Imports $191.6 billion

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