Russian Consul General Vladimir P. Mikhaylov has urged Pakistani exporters to aggressively enter into the Russian market which was unfolding under WTO from January. He stated this while addressing the textile tycoons of the country at the head office of Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) here on Monday night.
Explaining the potential of the Russian market, he said: “Our imports were only 17 billion dollars as compared to the potential of 60 billion dollars.
He also mentioned the last visit of President General Pervaiz Musharraf that played a major role in increasing Pakistani exports, adding: “Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russian was doubled in 2003-04.
Mikhaylov said that Pakistani exports were only 20 million dollars as compared to the imports of 135 million dollars from Russia. He said Russia will open its markets for all from January 2005 and Pakistan must exploit this opportunity to increase its share from the Russian markets.
The Russian consul general said that various European countries were exporting Pakistani textile products, and earning huge profits, adding the direct textile exports from Pakistan would not only provide an opportunity to Pakistani exporters to earn profits, but also help Russian consumers to get quality Pak products at cheaper rates.
About tariff issue raised by the PTEA Chairman Mian Faiq Jawed, Mikhaylov clarified that his position and asked the Pakistani exporters to pressurise their government to take up this issue with Russian commerce minister, who is scheduled to visit Pakistan very soon.
He also mentioned language problem, banking, law and order, and other related problems, saying that new generation of Russian businessmen is mostly conversant with English while interpreters were also available.
Similarly, some serious Russian exporters have also launched their web sites in English to have direct links with the international markets, he added.
About issuance of visas to Pakistani businessmen, the Russian consul general said that maximum business visas have been issued last year. However, serious businessmen must first make homework and get recommendation from Russian firms or individuals to qualify for a business visa, he added.
He said some Pakistani firms were already doing business and they opened Letter or Credits (L/C), etc as it was a matter of mutual confidence and trust. He, however, said that additional steps are also being taken to improve the banking facilities.
The Russian consul general also asked the exporters to explore genuine businessmen and in this connection he offered his services for establishing close links between Pakistani and Russian businessmen.
He also mentioned union of entrepreneurs of light industry and textile, saying that he will help them to negotiate with PTEA and sign memorandum of understanding (MoU) for further co-operation between their members and exchange of delegations, as it would provide an opportunity for match-making and thus help them launch joint ventures.
Earlier, PTEA Chairman Mian Faiq Jawed, in his address of welcome, introduced Faisalabad and his association, saying that Faisalabad exporters were continuing two billion dollars foreign exchange and has potential to cater to the textile needs of the new international markets.
He said, at present, imports from Pakistan to Russia constitute only 0.22 percent of the total imports of Russia which means even less than a quarter of one percent. The main reason for this low trade is lack of awareness about Pakistan and its potential. The PTEA chief said that Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Poland are purchasing fabrics from Pakistan and exporting it to Russia, adding” “Russia is indirectly importing Pakistani fabrics up to 10 percent at a higher cost via Europe.”
He also pinpointed high import tariff in Russia, and said that import duties in Russian on finished cloth are 15 percent plus 18 percent VAT making total 33 percent.
“This import duty becomes more pinching and discriminatory when compared to zero percent duty for Bangladesh and India”, he said.
The PTEA chief said that another similar irritant is the bed-sheet, which is subjected to 20 percent excise duty, adding that bed-sheet doesn’t fall in the value-added category, and, therefore, this should be exempted from excise duty.
Mian Fiaq Jawed also mentioned lack of banking and shipping facilities and requested appropriate measures to encourage Pakistani exporters to provide quality and cheap textile products to Russian consumers.
He also urged the Russian consul general to streamline the system of visit visa for Pakistani exporters.
Muhammad Farooq Afzal, director, Pakistan-Russia Business Council and chief executive, Integrated Textile Network, also addressed the function and explained various measures being taken to encourage bilateral trade between the two countries.
In this connection, he particularly mentioned banking facilities and opening of warehouse for Pakistani exporters. He also proposed a single country exhibition at St. Petersberg, and assured full support from his side.
Later, Hafeez Pasha of Bishmillah Textile, thanked the guests while Sheikh Mukhtar and PTEA Senior Vice President Waseem Latif presented memento of the Association to Russian consul general.
Videodisks of the visit of Vladimir P. Mikhaylov were also presented to him.
Earlier, the Russian consul general also addressed the members of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI). He also visited some local textile units.
Courtesy: `Business Recorder