Pakistan 1st country to settle Soviet-era trade row.

Pakistan has become the first country to settle the Soviet-era trade dispute with Russia - then USSR, announced Federal Commerce Secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera.

Speaking at a meeting with members of the Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA), the secretary said a mere $93 million, owed by Pakistan to Russia, was hindering smooth relations between the two countries.

"Earlier, we wondered why the Russians were adamant on receiving such a meagre amount," said the secretary. "Later, we found that it was a matter of their pride rather than the monetary value and Pakistan became the first country to clear its debt owed to Moscow."

In the 1980s, the USSR and its companies had been engaged in barter trade with Pakistan. When the confederation fell apart following the Afghan war, the trade settlement was deferred not only with Pakistan but also with many other countries.

Talking about the free trade agreement (FTA) with China, Sukhera termed it a huge opportunity and urged exporters to reap maximum benefit from it.

"The FTA contains well-safeguarded measures for the Pakistani market while China has allowed us duty-free export of 313 product lines, which can benefit our exporters and earn foreign exchange for the country," he said. "We can also form joint ventures with the Chinese enterprises."

Turning to the Look Africa Policy Initiative, the commerce secretary said Pakistan would organise a Look Africa exhibition in Nairobi in January 2020 to pave the way for interaction between Pakistani and African businessmen and open new doors of opportunities.

Commenting on the challenges faced by the exporters, the secretary said Pakistan was one of the countries having the highest port tariffs, adding that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) considered...

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