Direct shipping service between Pakistan, Russia to begin this month

A representational image of containers. — Reuters/File

  • Before this, Pakistani products were being exported to Russia via transhipment.
  • Service will be between Karachi and Saint Petersburg.
  • Direct shipping services to make Pakistani products competitive.

KARACHI: A direct containerised shipping service linking Karachi and Saint Petersburg will begin this month which would give trade access to Pakistani products in the Russian market, an official told The News.

“The first ever ship will call on May 25, 2023 at Karachi Port,” said Abdullah Farrukh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pak Shaheen (Pvt) Limited, who is also Convener Shipping Affairs, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

Before the opening up of the service, Pakistani products were being exported to the Russian market via transhipment, which caused delays and enhanced freight costs.

Abdullah said direct shipping would facilitate the export of textiles, sports goods, surgical items, Himalayan salt, rice, leather goods, gloves, apparel, fruits and vegetables and confectionary items from Pakistan to Russia.

The Pak Shaheen CEO added that the service will be between Karachi and Saint Petersburg.

“It is a significant step in the current economic situation of the country and will support Pakistani exporters, who were otherwise, sending their products through transhipment,” he added.

About the payment mode, the CEO said the payment would be made in Chinese currency Yuan for shipments as Russian importers would pay Pakistani exporters in Chinese currency. He said that Chinese and Pakistani banks would be involved in these transactions.

According to a report from the Pakistan Business Council (PBC), bilateral trade between Russia and Pakistan has always been in favour of Russia. Bilateral trade reached an all-time high in 2020 worth $757.6 million. In 2020, 40.1% of Pakistan’s exports to Russia comprised textiles and related articles.

Similarly, edible fruits accounted for another 34% of Pakistan’s exports to Russia. 

Pakistan’s imports from Russia in 2020 were worth $617 million with the major import items being cereals, edible vegetables, mineral fuels, rubber products, paper products, iron and steel, pharmaceutical products, fertilisers and organic chemical.

Pakistan’s exports to Russia in 2020 were worth $145 million with the major export items being edible fruits, knitted textile products, cotton, leather products, made-up textile articles, non-knitted textile products, optical instruments, man-made staple fibres, toys and cutlery.

The trade index indicates that Pakistan is better suited to supply to the Russian market as opposed to Russia supplying to the Pakistani market. This shows that the Pakistani export industry stands to gain more from a potential FTA between the two countries.

Abdullah said that the transshipment of Pakistani products to the Russian market was taking a long time and benefiting other countries, through which these products were transshipped. Pakistani fruits were taking more than 50 days to reach the Russian market via other countries, with the direct route, these shipments would now reach their destination in only 24 days.

He said that the Russian market is huge and offers major export potential for Pakistani products, adding during his recent visit, he noticed major demand for Pakistani products, which were reaching Russia via other countries. 

He said that direct shipping services will make Pakistani products more competitive in the Russian market.

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