ISLAMABAD: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has sought a proactive trade policy pertaining to Iran under the present geopolitical scenario aimed at capturing maximum market of the neighbouring country.
FPCCI Standing Committee on Horticulture and Agriculture Produce Chairman Ahmad Jawad said the Iran nuclear deal would have a huge impact on Pakistan’s economy and policymakers must hammer out a proactive policy to capitalise on the opportunity.
“After reintegration of Iran into the global economy, trends have changed. In this scenario, Pakistan’s trade policy must be proactive in order to compete effectively,” he said.
Jawad added in order to increase trade with Iran, the State Bank of Pakistan must take appropriate steps to facilitate banking transactions through various financial channels. “The issue has not yet been discussed formally at any forum with commercial banks.”
He said a delegation from Iran was due to arrive in Islamabad next week to talk about various trade and investment issues.
Pakistan’s balance of trade with Iran is negative. Total volume was a mere $216 million in fiscal year 2014-15. According to Jawad, exports to Iran were $52 million and imports were worth $164 million. Pakistan mainly exports commodities like grains, fruits and vegetables and imports chemicals and tiles.
The suspension of banking transactions had been considered to be the key factor behind the low level of trade.
“It is time we also look at widening and deepening the scope of the 2006 preferential trade agreement and push down tariff on Pakistan’s agriculture commodities to increase exports to Iran,” he stated.
“We must recall that Iran is a lucrative market for Pakistani kinnow and rice, and a few years ago kinnow exports stood at 60,000 tons per year.”
Jawad also called for holding a Pakistan-Iran business conference that would enhance business-to-business interaction and facilitate regional trade.
“As Iran is a big market, we have to stop illegal trade, which will hit the potential of bilateral trade,” he added.
Officials in the commerce ministry said an Iranian delegation would soon be in Pakistan to open a fresh round of talks on the preferential trade agreement and look at ways to do away with non-tariff barriers, reduce duties and identify cross-border investment opportunities.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015.
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