Iran minister agrees to begin commercial links between Pakistan, Iran ports

Karachi: Abbas Ghobadi, Deputy Minister Industry, Mines & Trade, Government of Iran and Chairman & M.D. of Governmental Trading Corporation of Iran has agreed to a proposal to begin commercial activities between the ports of Bunder Abbas and Karachi, besides setting up joint ventures in agricultural sector and opening banking channel between the two brotherly countries.

He was speaking as chief guest at a reception held in his honour by Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry KCCI here on Thursday.

KCCI President Mian Abrar Ahmad in his welcome address urged to develop regional trading block of ECO countries, particularly between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.

He said that the biased policies of USA & West never allowed economic independence to Pakistan as allowed to other countries in the region. He articulated to build ‘trading blocks’ with SAARC countries, Central Asian Republics, particularly between Iran and Pakistan.

He proposed that the trade between Pakistan and Iran should be permitted in local currencies instead of dollars and the trade through railways be regularized. He was of the view that Pakistan has been severely discriminated by West and as energy hungry country we should not accept any dictation on Iran-Pakistan-India Gas pipeline project which is burning need for our country to overcome the energy crisis.

He said, “Resolution passed in USA has proved that Balochistan had been facing engineered situation of unrest having its roots abroad. West has never liked Gwadar port ever since it was established.”

He opined, “Iran and Pakistan should jointly address this issue because Western interference in Balochistan may create territorial security issues for both Muslim neighbouring countries.”

He said that the key solution for economic stability of Pakistan is regional trade with building blocks with SAARC, ECO, ASEAN, GCC and Central Asian Countries. He said that Pakistan was facing Non-Tariff Barriers to Export in terms of restricted market access from USA and West. If market access allowed, Pakistan can export worth $ 25 billion to USA alone, he maintained.

He highlighted the existing tremendous potential for bilateral trade and identified possibilities of joint ventures in value-added agricultural sector and engineering sector. To enhance bilateral economic and commercial cooperation, he voiced to establish banking channel as the business transactions between Iran and Pakistan was routed through Asian Clearing Union which was more time-consuming than a normal letter of credit LC, while opening a LC through Iran’s sister companies in Dubai also adds to cost. He appreciated that the Pak-Iran Trade during last half decade increased from $389 million to $1.2 billion and emphasized to deepen the existing Preferential Trade Agreement PTA to be followed by Free Trade Agreement FTA.

Chairman Businessmen Group Siraj Kassam Teli, speaking at the occasion, expressed solidarity to the people and business community of Iran. He focused that Pakistan and Iran are two friendly Muslim neighbouring countries having many commonalities of religion, norms and culture.

He termed the meeting of President Ahmadinejad with President Zardari as an important move to strengthen ties. He proposed that both governments should consider and allow the business communities to two countries to go together with the Government to Government negotiations and to achieve this a Committee may be formed. He also appreciated the efforts of Iranian Consul General in Karachi to enhance trade.

Abbas Ghobadi in his address highlighted the historical relations of Iran and Pakistan and stated that the recent visit of President Ahmadinejad to meet his counterpart endorse the importance Iranian Government attaches to Pakistan.

He appreciated the role of Iran-Pakistan Embassies and Consulate Generals in respective countries to uplift the trade and strengthen the economic cooperation as the Missions were committed to implement the bilateral agreements existing between two countries. He said that Iran had relations with 160 countries particularly economic relations with EU, UK, Canada and Central Asian States.

He was of the view that both countries had energetic relations, however, economic relations need to be more fostered. He informed that as agreed between the Presidents of two countries, Pakistan will export wheat to Iran which will be value-added and its products will be exported, trade will be maintained between the private sectors.

The indigenous wheat produced in Iran was fulfilling the demands and the factories of Iran had the capacity to process 25 million tonnes of wheat. Export of other commodities and products are also in consideration. Reciprocating the import of wheat, Iran and export energy to Pakistan, he said.

Minister agreed to the proposals of President KCCI for joint ventures in agricultural sector and informed that efforts were underway to establish banking channel and execute commercial activities between the port of Imam Khomeni, Bunder Abbas and Karachi ports.

He said that security issues need to be addressed to increase trade. He said that Iran already maintaining trade with US & EU was focusing on regional trade particularly with Pakistan and Central Asian Republics.

Iran was maintaining barter trade with India and China trade and likewise, through barter system Iran-Pakistan will be enhanced. Iranian companies had good business relations with their US counterparts and there was a negative propaganda by the media about Iran-US relations. He emphasized for vibrant Chamber-to-Chamber interactions from both sides.

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