FAISALABAD – Enhanced connectivity and banking channels between Pakistan and Iran are imperative to fully exploit the post-sanction opportunities and in this connection negotiation are in advance stage and positive news is expected within a month, said Asif Khan Durrani Pakistani Ambassador in Tehran.
Addressing the business community of Faisalabad in Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here today, he said that Pakistan and Iran are brotherly neighboring countries. Both are enjoying good diplomatic relations but due to different reasons we could not fully exploit the economic potential, he said and added that Iran has surplus energy while Pakistan is an energy starved country. Similarly, Iran is facing food shortage while Pakistan can export rice and other eatable commodities to it. He also commented on the non-availability of banking channels and said it is a major obstacle in the promotion of bilateral trade between the two countries. He said that being neighbor countries, we are always involved in cross border trade but it was through informal channels.
He said that now the both countries are focusing on the promotion of formal trade and hopefully a positive breakthrough is expected very soon. He said that State Bank of Pakistan has issued SRO allowing commercial banks to open their branches in Iran but they are reluctant to do business in dollars with Iran. He said that Pakistan and Iran trade could transact their business deals in Euro or Chinese Yuan as an alternate currency of dollar.
He further told that Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) is organizing “Aali Shaan” Pakistan Exhibition in Tehran from March 4 to7, 2017. It will play a major role in opening new avenues of trade between the two countries. He urged upon the textile exporters of Faisalabad to actively participate in this exhibition to enhance their share in textile export of Pakistan. He told that Pakistani denim is very popular in Iran and is being imported via Turkey. He said that Iran has a tilt towards west and hence Pakistani exporters should make special value added products for Iran in according to their needs and fashion trends. He also stressed the need for enhancing connectivity and said that the because of the UN sanctions the air links between two countries are still very poor. Similarly the cargo train could not be managed via Tuftan border only because of the non-availability of sufficient cargo load.
Earlier in his address of welcome, acting president Rana Sikandar Azam said that Iran is our neighbor and brotherly Islamic country. He said that after lifting sanctions Iran is making serious efforts to promote its trade and Pakistan being its neighbor will definitely be its first choice. He said that Pakistan and Iran have agreed to increase their bilateral trade up to 5 billion dollars during next five years and in this connection commerce minister Mr. Khuram Dastaghir is going to visit Tehran on December 28, 29. During this visit, he will negotiate within concerned Iranian minister to decide the measures to increase our bilateral trade. He said that Pakistan and Iran are already signatories of PTA (Preferential Trade Agreement) while negotiations in progress on FTA (Free Trade Agreement).
Rana Sikandar Azam said that the major hurdle in the promotion of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iran is non-existence of banking channels. He said that government of Pakistan has allowed State Bank of Pakistan to negotiate on the important points which will ultimately help both countries to establish their banks in each other’s countries. He also expressed concern on tariff barriers and said that economic strength of Pakistan is textile but unluckily Iran has imposed high tariff rates on textile products due to which our textile exporters are unable to increase their exports to Iran.
Continuing, he said that Iran is already providing electricity to Pakistan while negotiations to purchase gas from Iran are underway. He said that Pakistan needs professional competency to negotiate the price of gas as Iran is our neighboring country and hence the price of Iranian gas should be comparatively cheaper than the gas imported from Qatar and other countries.
He thanked the Pakistani ambassador in Tehran and said that he is fully discharging his diplomatic responsibilities in addition to making additional efforts to promote trade between the two countries.
During question answer session former president Zahid Aslam, Mian Farhan Latif, Muhammad Shafiq, Abid Hussain Malhi, and Secretary General FCCI Mr. Abid Masood raised interesting questions.
Rana Ikram Ullah decorated executive members of LCCI Ali Hassam with FCCI pin while former president Mian Zahid Aslam presented FCCI shield to Mr. Asif Khan Durrani.