US$5 billion trade volume can be achieved easily, says Iranian CG

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KARACHI: Consul General of Iran Hassan Nourian has said that despite good political relations and deep cultural history, the trade volume between Iran and Pakistan was not satisfactory as it currently stood at around US$1.5 billion per annum while both governments were targeting trade volume of US$5 billion which can be achieved easily.

“Recently Iranian government has taken some good steps in order to increase bilateral trade particularly signing of two MoUs, of which the first MoU has been signed for setting up Joint Business Council between Iran and Pakistan while the second one was inked in connection with arbitration of commercial disputes”, he said, adding that at the same time, KCCI and Isfahan Chamber have also signed an MoU for improving cooperation between the business communities of the two countries.

Exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Iranian CG informed that the most important development was the removal of banned commodities from the list of items to be imported from Pakistan under Iran-Pakistan PTA, hence, all traders and businessmen from Iran and Pakistan can now do business and enjoy full trade capacity under PTA without any restriction or limitation.

Chairman Businessmen Group & Chief Executive TDAP Zubair Motiwala, President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, Senior Vice President Touseef Ahmed, Vice President Muhammad Haris Agar, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Zia ul Arfeen, Former Presidents Majyd Aziz & Iftikhar Vohra along with KCCI Managing Committee Members also attended the meeting.

Iranian CG said that Iran and Pakistan, being the neighboring countries with common border spread over almost 1,000 kilometers, share many commonalities and values in history and culture hence, both countries were in a perfect position to meet each other’s necessities including supply of Iranian natural gas, crude oil and petrochemical products etc. whereas Pakistani agricultural products can also be exported to Iran.

While identifying lack of banking channel as the main obstacle in smooth trade, he said that to deal with this issue, Iran has suggested the Pakistani government and the State Bank to allow trade via national currencies of both countries or opening of an Iranian bank here in Karachi in addition to devising barter trade mechanism.  Although an MoU was signed for barter trade between Ministry of Commerce in Iran and Pakistan while Quetta and Zahedan Chambers have been allowed to start barter trade but the barter trade has not commenced through these platforms so far due to some technical issues.

He further stated that in response to an invitation extended by Chief Executive Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Zubair Motiwala, the Chairman of Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) Iran will be visiting Karachi on January 16, 2023 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TDAP wherein the two institutions would focus on removing trade barriers and explore ways and means for further enhancing the existing trade relations.

He said that Chairman TPO, in addition to signing MoU, will also be participating in Iran’s Single Country Exhibition at Karachi Expo Center which will also begin on January 16. While seeking business community’s inputs on how to further improve trade ties, he requested KCCI members to densely participate in Iranian exhibition to make it successful.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman BMG & CE TDAP Zubair Motiwala, while warmly welcoming Iran’s initiative to hold a Single Country Exhibition in Karachi, assured TDAP’s full support and cooperation along with Karachi Chamber’s assistance in organizing this important event. “KCCI, which has been regularly holding My Karachi Exhibition since many years and has the required expertise for staging such events, is ready to fully assist Iran so that its Single Country Exhibition could be organized in an impressive manner.”

Commenting on trade ties between the two brotherly countries, he suggested that confectionary items, petroleum products and its raw materials, plastics and many other products in which Iran holds the expertise can be imported in Pakistan whereas tea, rice, fabrics, garments and several other products can be exported to Iran. 

President KCCI Tariq Yousuf, while welcoming the Iranian Consul General, pointed out that despite excellent brotherly relationships between Pakistan and Iran, the bilateral trade volume was below trade potential US$5 billion. It was heartening that KCCI and Isfahan Chamber recently signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a practical framework for the development of business relations and to set forth the procedures of cooperation which could enhance implementation of mutual economic objectives between the two Chambers.

Referring to negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA), he said that if this materializes, it would revive Pak-Iran bilateral trade to the next level and develop deep financial and economic cooperation. He also stressed need to expand the barter trade basket by adding more products to capitalize and facilitate importers and exporters of both countries which would certainly deepen Pak-Iran economic integration.

He noted that Pakistan-Iran Joint Trade Committee agreed to ensure phase-wise implementation of border markets and investors’ access to the special economic zones for enhancing trade between the two countries which will strengthen cross-border economic cooperation and discourage illegal border trade by improving formal trade between the two countries.

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