Iranian envoy calls for facilitating banking transactions to improve trade
Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Vice President and Regional Chairman Riaz Khattak has said that Pakistan and Iran are enjoying close and cordial relations which are based on historic bonds of culture, traditions, religion and ethnicity. He said that exchange of high level visits between states highlights the importance the two countries give to each other, adding that Pakistan is engaging with Iran to increase trade between the two countries.
Talking to the Iranian ambassador during a meeting on Monday, Riaz Khattak said that Iran has always been helpful to Pakistan in difficult times and has never turned its back on it, and that the two countries will get even stronger if trade between the two increases.
“It’s high time that trade barriers are removed so that together we can become a strong economic bloc in the region. For this, both sides may implement a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) in letter and spirit on priority which was signed back in 2006,” the Iranian ambassador said.
The FPCCI said it wanted the Iran Chamber of Commerce of Industry and Mines and Agriculture should send a delegation to visit Khyber Pakthunkhawa, so that they might be briefed about the investment potential in the province. As KP is blessed with natural resources, and has a rich potential in hydropower, mines and minerals as well as delicious fruits “but we need which need joint ventures to capitalise these resources”, Khattak said and added, “We believe that the Iranian investors will be ideal for that.”
FPCCI Regional Standing Committee Chairman Ahmad Jawad said, “We are looking forward to the Iranian Agriculture Ministry allowing the import of kinnows and potatoes formally from Pakistan in the upcoming season, which will start from December 1.”
The FPCCI also said that the Iranian Embassy should also intervene in this regard so that official trade may start immediately, which it said, is the need of the hour.
Jawad also said that Pakistan’s horticulture sector has immense potential.
“Besides, we also have a rich potential in halal meat which has a great demand in Iran. It is high time that business to business interaction is initiated and the business community of the two countries play their due roles through the Pakistan-Iran Joint Chamber of Commerce which was recently formed,” Jawad said.
Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost said it is his pleasure to address the FPCCI KP Chapter and that this is his first visit to Peshawar since he took charge. “Right now we are on the cusp of turning our economy around and the Pakistan businesses should grab this opportunity.”
Mehdi said, “Iran is a tested friend of Pakistan and we never want to interfere in Pakistan’s or any other country’s internal matters.”
He also said that the FPCCI must share information with the Iranian Embassy so that they may understand their capabilities and decide how they can proceed further. Similarly the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project will be ideal for Pakistan to overcome its energy needs at affordable rates.
He called for urgency in increasing the trade with Pakistan as well as starting work on the bilateral projects.
“The bilateral trade between Afghanistan and Iran even during sanctions was $2.5 billion while with Pakistan, the volume was not more than half a billion dollars,” he said.
Mehdi further added that Pakistan should facilitate banking transactions immediately so that trade can improve. He criticised the fact that cooperation between the two countries has not increased in three decades even though other countries have increased their trade relations with Iran.
Islamic Chamber of Commerce (ICCI) Vice President Senator Ghulam Ali thanked the ambassador for visiting the FPCCI, and said that time has come for the two countries to come closer to each other in bilateral trade. He also gave a proposal that the FPCCI and the ICCI should conduct a detailed seminar on the bottlenecks which hamper trade between the two countries. He said the seminar should also propose solutions so that the business community may be able to plan accordingly.
He also called on the State Bank of Pakistan to expedite the matter to facilitate banking transactions between the two countries.