EghtesadOnline: President of Pakistani’s top business body urges the government to construct its portion of 785 km of Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline as soon as possible.
In an interview IRNA, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Abdul Rauf Alam said that completion of the project would help boosting bilateral trade volume which is currently very low between the two capitals, reports IRNA.
“As a private sector we are putting pressure on the government to complete the project, the Iranian part of the IP is almost finished but from our side it is yet to be done and we are already very late,” Alam said.
He added that things between Iran and Pakistan are moving in a right direction but the pace is still slow.
“Of course the main problem is the banking channel but the private sectors of both the countries are serious in doing the business,” he noted.
The official noted that during to his recent meeting with Iran's Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost, he discussed resumption of banking channel between Iran and Pakistan.
“I told the ambassador that without banking channel we cannot improve our bilateral trade,” he said believing that after resumption of banking channel between Iran and Pakistan, bilateral trade volume would increase and there would be a drastic change.
“The Iranian government is trying hard to remove all the barriers in this regards,” Alam stressed.
He added that Iran and Pakistan should remove trade barriers because they stop improving bilateral relations between the two sides.
According to the Pakistani businessman, the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Iran and Pakistan would definitely help improve bilateral trade. “It will definitely happen,” he said.
Noting that the current trade volume of Iran and Pakistan is quite embarrassing, the FPCCI president added, “The five billion dollars trade volume is quite reasonable and can be achieved if both the countries are serious to work and if politics does not involve. Achieving five billion dollars bilateral trade is not a dream and can be realized”.
Saying that Chabahar and Gwadar ports would both complete each other, the Pakistani business leader said: “We don’t have any issue with Chabahar. We would love to go there and invest there. Chabahar is absolutely no threat for Gwadar. The businessmen only want to earn legal money no mater it is Chabahar or Gwadar.”
Alam noted that in the future, Pakistani community can go to Chabahar to invest but at the moment there is no such plan.
“They will wait and see how Iran and Pakistan will move further,” he said.
Commenting on the upcoming Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Commission meeting to be hosted by Tehran, he said resumption of banking channel, removing trade barriers and completion of the IP would be the main areas to be discussed in the meeting of the next Joint Economic Commission.
He did not refer to the time when the meeting is to be held.
“Iran and Pakistan should pave the ground to for trade and the FTA should take place immediately,” he said.
Pointing to severe energy crisis in Pakistan, he said: 'We don’t have any better choice than Iran in import of electricity.
“The energy from Iran is the best option and the security situation of Afghanistan is a big hurdle and problem for other power projects (to import energy from Central Asian nations) to be completed,” he said.