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Pakistan to pay for Russian oil in currencies of friendly countries

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Islamabad: Pakistan will pay for energy purchases from Russia, when they start in late March, in currencies of friendly countries, a top energy official said on Friday.

The development came at the conclusion of the 8th session of the Pakistan-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on trade, economic, scientific, and technical cooperation led by Ayaz Sadiq, Pakistan Minister for Economic Affairs, and Nikolay Shulginov, Russian Energy Minister, from respective sides between January 18 and 20 here.

Shulginov, in a joint statement read out before the media, said Islamabad would pay for energy purchases in currencies of friendly countries, adding that the two countries agreed in late March as the timeline for crude oil export to cash-strapped Pakistan.

The friendly countries were not named but likely include China which has close ties with both Pakistan and Russia.

The two sides worked under the guidance of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and President Vladimir Putin and took the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to a strong and comprehensive economic relationship, the statement said.

They reiterated that such a relationship contributed to the economic well-being of the two countries, as well as the region.

The two sides reached an agreement in principle on the supply of Russian crude oil and products to Pakistan, with technical details to be finalised in March this year at the latest.

“Both sides agreed that after consensus on the technical specifications achieved, the oil and gas trade transaction will be structured in a way it has a mutual economic benefit for both countries. The process is to be completed within March 2023,” the statement read.

Pakistan last year sent officials to Russia to explore the import of energy, after which the country’s state minister for petroleum Musaddik Malik said Russia would sell crude oil at a discounted rate.

Pakistan has not traditionally been a major importer of Russian oil or gas and after the latest meetings in Islamabad, Malik said that Islamabad wants to import 35 per cent of its total crude oil requirement from Russia.

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

They agreed to work on a “Comprehensive Gas Infrastructure Plan for Energy Cooperation”, which would form the foundation for future work and is to be completed in 2023.

Both sides reassured commitment to undertake the Pak Stream gas pipeline project as one of the pillars of the “Comprehensive Gas Infrastructure Plan”.

Both sides agreed that the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project should be considered in terms of a comprehensive infrastructure that is economically viable for sustainable development ensuring affordable gas supplies.

The Russian side was also invited toward potential projects of the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan, including in public-private partnership mode, and requested the Russian businessmen to explore these possibilities.

They have resolved the pending issues related to the exchange of information on certificates of origin of goods with the use of an electronic verification system and shall endeavour to finalise the above-mentioned protocols by the end of May 2023.

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

The 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 and enhanced interest of Pakistani citizens in education in the Russian Federation.

The two sides also 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 about developing and improving rail and road infrastructure.

The two sides also signed three documents including an agreement regarding Cooperation and mutual assistance in Custom matters between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; protocol on the exchange of documents and data on the Customs value of goods transported between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; and working agreement on Airworthiness of Aeronautical products.

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

They observed and noted positive prospects for implementable and concrete projects in the above-mentioned sectors of the 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 will vigorously follow up to exploit this potential for common prosperity.

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( With inputs from www.siasat.com )

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