MoU on Strategic Trade Cooperation with Iran to boost trade: ICCI
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Five-Year Strategic Trade Cooperation Plan signed between Pakistan and Iran during the recent visit of Iranian President, Dr. Hassan Rouhani would pave way for promoting bilateral trade between the two countries up to their real potential. President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Atif Ikram Sheikh said that during the seventh Pakistan-Iran Joint Trade Committee meeting held in Tehran in April 2015, both countries had agreed to enhance bilateral trade to US$ 5 billion. In a statement, he hoped that fiveyear strategic trade cooperation plan would be instrumental in realizing this goal. He hailed the landmark agreement between Pakistan and Iran to open two new crossing points along their border as it would facilitate trade and people-to-people contacts between the two brotherly Islamic countries. He said despite huge trade potential, PakIran bilateral trade between the two countries has remained low. He identified non-tariff barriers of Iran, its high customs duty on
products of Pakistan's interest like textiles, its complicated import processes, lack of enabling infrastructure, poor rail, road and air links and less number of land routs as the key reasons of low trade volume between the two countries and stressed that both countries should focus on addressing these issues in order to improve twoway trade.
The President, ICCI said trade between Pakistan and Iran was confined to limited items as Pakistan mostly imported oil and gas from Iran and exported rice and meat to Iran. He stressed that both countries should focus on diversification of trade to achieve better results. He said Pakistan could export many products to Iran including fruits, textiles, surgical items, sports goods, gems and jewelry etc. He urged that both countries should explore making joint investments in agro-food processing and infrastructure, particularly in the field of establishing effective rail, air, road and sea links to improve trade relations. He said trade through Gwadar Port and Chahbahar Port would be beneficial for both countries and they should take measures to make it possible. Atif Ikram Sheikh said that Iran was endowed with rich natural resources possessing the world's second largest gas reserves while Pakistan was energy deficient country.
He said Pakistan should develop close energy cooperation with Iran to cope with energy crisis by importing gas and electricity. He was hopeful that the current visit of Dr. Hassan Rouhani would contribute towards exploring new avenues of diversifying trade and strengthening cooperation in energy sector on win-win situation.