Russia is keen to develop its stakes in Pakistan’s economy. For this, a 64-member delegation headed by Minister for Trade and Industries for the Russian Federation, Denis V Manturov, is visiting Pakistan for four days to attend an Inter-Governmental Commission.
According to the latest updates, Russia has shown willingness to help reconstruct Pakistan Steel Mills making it economically viable and play its role in Pakistan’s energy sector. Russia also wants to construct the railway track from Quetta to Taftan. It will offer Sukhoi SuperJet-100 passenger planes to Pakistan for PIA, confirmed senior officials at Economic Affairs Division, ministries of Industries & Production and Commerce. Russia and Pakistan will also figure out the much-delayed North-South gas pipeline project.
While mentioning the Russian offer of SSJ-100 aircraft for PIA, the official said that the said planes will be available on direct purchase and lease to purchase options and can be positioned immediately on wet lease to meet the immediate operational requirements of PIA.
The aircraft can be operated both, on domestic and international, routes to the Middle East, CIS, India, China, Colombo, Bangladesh, UAE etc. The aircraft can be supplied on both wet or dry lease with the option to purchase. He further said that the route analysis for PIA in 2012, and more importantly Sukhoi SuperJet SSJ-100 is a pet project of President Putin.
The official said that Russia, in the recent past, offered three options.
Under the first option, Russia wanted that its state-owned companies to under government-to-government arrangement that will revamp Pakistan Steel Mills and then it will hand it to Pakistan while under the second option, Russian state-owned companies will revamp PSM with their own management required for operation and maintenance under the government-to-government arrangement. Under the third option, the project will get divided into three parts to be revamped under which a power plant of 156MW will be rehabilitated separately and similarly Coke Oven Battery Plan (COPB), Cold Rolling Mills and Hot Strip Mills and Jetty will be revamped separately.
However, Pakistan wants to deal with Pakistan Steel Mills under public private partnership (PPP) mode.
He went on to say that during the IGC meeting, there are chances to create a joint venture in Pakistan for production and maintenance of rolling stock of spare parts that can be used for running the Pakistan Steel Mills.
During the 4 day visit, both the countries will also explore avenues for increasing the bilateral trade which currently stands at about $400 million. Pakistan’s exports stand at $150 million while the import from Russia is $250 million. Last year, the bilateral trade surged by up to $700 million as Pakistan purchased MI-35 helicopters from Russia.
Talking about much-delayed North-South pipeline, the official said that Russia has so far failed to provide sanction-free structure to Pakistan to initiate the $2.1 billion pipeline.