Pakistan, Iran pledge to boost trade volume to $5b in five years


Pakistan and Iran vowed on Saturday to remove non-tariff barriers to take bilateral trade volume up to $5 billion from existing $270 million in next five years.

Addressing Pakistan-Iran Business Forum on Saturday, Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said that, under an MoU of five year strategic trade cooperation plan signed on previous day, the two countries expressed their resolve to start a fresh era of bilateral trade and economic relations.

“It had been very fruitful morning when the leadership of the two countries vowed to attach highest priority to trade and economic cooperation between the two countries,” Khurram Dastgir Khan added.

He said the proposed measures in the five years plan included expansion and deepening of Pak-Iran preferential agreement, holding of single country exhibitions in each other’s country, visits of delegations, removal of non-tariff barriers, regular holding of meetings of joint border trade and joint trade committees, reactivation of joint business council, opening of additional international border crossing points and establishment of border markets.

The minister informed that high Iranian tariffs had been serious obstacles to Pakistan’s market access in Iran besides permit system for imports, maintained by Iran, also negatively impacted flow of exports from Pakistan.

Moreover, he said there were a number of non-tariff barriers including higher charges by Iranian authorities such as high visa fee, road tax from Pakistan vehicles, load tax and frequent charges in import regime in Iran.

“Now when we have agreed to take fresh start in our trade relations, we would need to identify opportunities as well as impediments,” he added. He said with the signing of letter of content between the Central Banks of two countries, the obstacles in banking channels would also be resolved. He hoped that the procedures relating to flow of goods across borders would be rationalised with the changed situation.

He said his ministry on its part was exploring various avenues to enhance bilateral trade to $5 billion in five years in accordance with the vision of top political leadership of the two countries.

He also informed that efforts would be made to complete rounds of FTA negotiation by 2017 so as to be a secure market access for Pakistan’s exports. Speaking on the occasion, Iranian Minister for Mining, Trade and Industry M Reza Nematzadeh said the two countries would now start a new era of cooperation by removing non-tariff barriers and enhancing business-to-business contact.

He stressed to give highest priority to bilateral trade and that the private sector of both the countries should move forward and increase mutual contact.

He informed that the Iranian government was preparing to arrange an exhibition in Karachi which was likely to be held in September this year.

He said likewise Pakistan should also arrange such an exhibition in Iran to promote bilateral trade. Board of Investment Chairman Miftah Ismail on the occasion said that Iranian economy would grow tremendously after lifting of international sanctions and this would be a great opportunity for Pakistan to explore areas of investment in Iran. He said Pakistan’s economy had improved during the current government and Iran could also take advantage of this rapidly growing economy.