Ambassador of Russian Federation Mr. Alexey Dedov has said that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia could not grow according to its potential due to artificial barriers. However serious efforts are being made to remove the same after a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin on the sideline of last general assembly meeting. Addressing the business community at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Saturday, Mr. Alexey Dedov said that diplomatic relations between Russia and Pakistan were deep rooted since 1948. ?We have been contributing in a big way in the development of Pakistan?, he said and added that Pakistan Steel Mill and many energy related projects were established with the Russian cooperation. He told that around 200 joint ventures have so far been completed in Pakistan in different sectors of the country including telecom, engineering and construction, etc. He also quoted meeting of Prime Minister Imran Khan with Russian President Vladimir Putin and told it will further strengthen cooperation between the two countries. Responding to a question, the Ambassador Russian Federation told that government gave directions and we have to provide conducive climate to promote trade relations within the given framework. He told that Russian delegations generally visit Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, but we would try to arrange their visit to Faisalabad also. However, he clarified that in case of Pakistan, its government has to decide the venue of the meeting. He also indicated that business communities of the two countries should participate in intentional trade fairs and exhibitions to cultivate direct B-2-B relations. He also told that Russia is starting work on offshore gas pipeline in Pakistan which will help resolve the energy problems of its upcountry areas. Regarding banking channels, Mr. Alexey Dedov informed that we are trying to streamline it. However, the Pakistani exporters could manage their banking affairs through State Bank of Russia to avoid any mishap, he added. He further told that a branch of National Bank of Pakistan has been working in Moscow since January 2018. Responding to yet another question, the Ambassador Russian Federation told that a 20-km long link Road between Chitral and Tajikistan could be provided in the long term planning of this region. He also asked the businessmen of Faisalabad to point out specific custom related problems so that these could be resolved at appropriate forum. Regarding visa issues, he told that generally our embassy issues single or double entry visa while multiple visa is issued only on the sole recommendation of the Russian partner of the applicant. Earlier in his welcome address President FCCI Syed Zia Alumdar Hussain said that the FCCI is serving the business community of Faisalabad for the last 44 years. ?It is third major chamber of Pakistan with 7,000 members within its fold?, he told. He also introduced Faisalabad and said that this city alone is contributing 45 percent towards total textile exports of Pakistan. He said that although textile is the iconic identification of this city yet other sectors including chemical, oil, sugar and engineering are also contributing their role in its overall development of this country. He further told that bilateral trade between the two countries stood at 402.78 million dollars in 2017. Pakistan made 144.71 million dollar exports while imports from Russian Federation were 258.01 million dollars thus balance of trade remained in favor of Russian Federation. Syed Zia Alumdar Hussain said that Pakistan has 3rd largest reserves of coal and 5th largest reserves of gold and copper in the world while Punjab also has rich potential for mineral. He invited the Russian investors to come here and exploit the vast untapped potential of Punjab particularly in Faisalabad. Similarly, Pakistan could supply all types of textile goods such as ready-made garments, home textiles and knitwear (hosiery) items to Russian markets. He said that there is huge potential of enhancing bilateral trade between the two countries in addition to joint ventures in textiles, agro-based industry, livestock, leather goods, oil and gas, IT and tourism sectors. He further told that Pakistan could also export Kinno and potatoes to the Russian federation. He stressed the need for direct links between the business communities of the two countries and holding of single country exhibition on reciprocal basis to increase the trade volume. He floated a proposal to ink MoUs between FCCI and important Chambers of Russian Federation. The President FCCI also underlined the need to expedite efforts for signing of Free Trade Agreement between the two countries which could enhance bilateral trade manifold. He told that B-2-B meetings between Pakistan and Russian are imperative to enhance bilateral trade. A documentary about FCCI and Faisalabad was screened while a pro-active question-answer session was also held in which Engineer Ahmad Hasan, Sana Ullah Niazi, Kashif Zia, Haleem Akhtar Malik and Secretary General Abid Masood took part. Later, Senior Vice President FCCI Mian Tanveer Ahmad offered votes of thank while President FCCI Syed Zia Alumdar Hussain presented FCCI shield to the Ambassador Mr. Alexey Dedov. Mr. Youri Kozlov Trade Representative of Russian Federation, Miss Anna and Dr. Shahid Hasan also accompanied the Russian ambassador during this meeting. Published in Daily Times, February 17th 2019.