EghtesadOnline: Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan stressed the need for making more efforts to strengthen trade relations between Iran and Pakistan.
During his visit to Islamabad Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Mehdi Honardoost said Pakistani exporters should focus on international trade markets of Iran and enjoy the trade benefits, according to IRNA.
He said that it is evident that Iran and Pakistan enjoy cordial relations in many areas, but the figure of trade volume between the two countries is not suitable to the huge potential that the two great markets of Iran and Pakistan have.
The envoy noted that the leaders of the two countries have agreed to increase the bilateral trade volume trade up to $5 billion, but right now the bilateral trade is $1.2 billion which is quite low.
He went on to say that improvement of the bilateral trade is our duty.
“If you promote trade you create more jobs and if the unemployed people get jobs you stop them from joining the illegal groups,' Honardoost added.
The diplomat said that the majority of the population of Iran and Pakistan are young, so it is the duty of both governments to look at the huge number of youngsters.
Expressing his views, Honardoost said Pakistan as a neighboring, Muslim country is very important for Iran.
He said that chambers of commerce of some other cities are more active than Islamabad chamber of commerce.
“Our doors are open for you and we should talk about all issues that are hampering our trade and find solutions, yes we have sanctions but only on dollars,” Honardoost said.
“We need to have more interaction to find a way to enhance our bilateral trade, we are accountable to our future generations,” the ambassador added.
He went on to say that ‘Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is very important, but it is not very close to us 'we should try to put more items in Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA)'.
Honardoost said that Iran is a big market and Pakistan businessmen can take lots of benefit from that.
“We are ready to discuss all technical issues in business with you but it is not possible in general meetings,” he noted.
Honrdoost said that 'we should join hands; we should activate all the potentials not only in giant projects, but also in small projects'.
The diplomat said that resumption of banking channel between the two countries is very important to boost the bilateral trade.
“According to the mutual understanding between the two countries both sides need to introduce some bankers to each other for opening the LCs, without the banking transactions we cannot jump to $ 5 billion trade,” he pointed out.
“We have spent $ 2 billion to complete the gas pipeline close to your border but we are waiting for the other side,” Honardoost said.
He said that Iranian Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is a very important project that can completely change the face of Pakistan’s economy.
“Iranian gas reserves are second largest in the world,” Honardoost said.
He said that the IP can provide raw material to many industries in Pakistan at a very low cost.
Honardoost said that last year 'we suggested to form joint chambers of commerce between Iran and Pakistan, though we have this in paper but not in reality'.
He went on to say said that under the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) we can become more active.
“We should look towards each other and come together closer than the past, we have everything we need,” Honardoost noted.
He said according to the mindset of our Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and our government all doors are open for the people of Pakistan.
“We have just launched direct flights between capitals of Iran and Pakistan which is a big achievement, earlier we had flights from Karachi and Lahore,” said the ambassador.
President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry Sheikh Amir Waheed expressing his views said that interaction should be held on regular basis to explore possibilities of further improving bilateral trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Iran.
He said Iran, Pakistan have cordial relations and both countries have great potential to cooperate with each other in many areas.
“However, the trade between Iran and Pakistan has been showing inconstant pattern. It peaked to $1.32 billion in 2008-2009 but has come to $ 359 million in 2016,” Honardoost pointed out.
He added that Pakistan's major exports to Iran include rice, paper and paper board, fruits, medical and surgical equipment, chemical material and meat, similarly, Pakistan’s major imports from Iran include petroleum products, machinery of all sorts, construction materials, cement, iron oars, fruits, chemical elements and compounds etc.
“Therefore, we understand that both countries should focus on doing trade in more products in order to further expand bilateral trade volume,” said the Pakistani business activist.
President, ICCI said: 'We are glad that Iran and Pakistan have planned to take steps under the five-year strategic trade cooperation plan to enhance annual trade up to $ 5 billion.'
He went on to say that both countries have also agreed to establish a mechanism to cope with issues hampering bilateral trade such as non-tariff barriers, absence of a mutual recognition agreement and lack of banking facilities.
“We would like that both countries should make strong efforts to address these hurdles that would increase two-way trade between Iran and Pakistan,” he said.
Sheikh Amir Waheed said that Iran has maintained high tariffs on many exports products of Pakistan including textiles and clothing.
“We would like Iran to reduce its high tariffs on Pakistani exports to achieve desired results of Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA),” he said.
He added that both countries are also negotiating for a free trade agreement and we would like that the FTA should be finalized to achieve win-win outcomes.
“We would like that the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and the Iranian Trade Promotion Organization should jointly draw up a comprehensive program of promotional activities to promote trade and economic relations,” Sheikh Amir Waheed said.