Pakistan is exploring Russian markets to boost exports of food products to take advantage of the vacuum created after Moscow banned food imports from European countries in retaliation for sanctions imposed over its actions in Ukraine.
A high-level meeting of top officials from Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research held on August 20 to discuss a strategy to enhance exports of agri-products to Russia.
Nearly a dozen exhibitors of agri-products are due to visit Moscow next month to showcase Pakistani products in the wake of Russian ban, which is not only hurting European agriculture sector but also driving up food prices in the country.
The meeting followed visits by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Russian and Belarus in July and August respectively to strengthen trade and economic ties.
Pakistani citrus, rice, potato and mango are making their way into the Russian market. The meeting decided to facilitate the export of fresh and frozen meat and poultry, vegetables which include carrot, cauliflower, cabbage and beet-root and fruits which include dates, dry fruits, apple and plum.
The Government will provide support in arranging trade fairs across Russia, seeking quality certification of Pakistani agri-products and brand development, according to a government announcement.
It was decided to pursue the case of Preferential Trade Agreement with Russia more vigorously to achieve easy access to the Russian market. Minister for Commerce, apprised the meeting about efforts being made by the Government to seek trade agreement with the Customs Union –Eurasian Economic Union- which includes Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Russian Quarantine officials will be invited to visit Pakistan and register meat processing units so that certified meat from these registered plants may be exported to Russia without any further checks.
Pakistani exporters are seeking government’s support in reducing air freight charges to increase their competitiveness in the Russian markets. They also want the government to operate special flights with cold storage facilities directly from Pakistan to Russia to facilitate the export of perishable items.