ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran have agreed to consider linking the latter with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in an effort to strengthen border markets and upgrade road and railway networks.
“Pakistan has invited Iran to become part of the CPEC and help strengthen border markets, upgrade railways, build warehouses and open/upgrade border crossing points,” said a senior officer in the Ministry of Commerce while talking to The Express Tribune.
During a meeting of the Pak-Iran Joint Working Group and Technical Committee on Trade, in the last week of August, the two sides discussed trade and investment-related issues and how to frame a five-year strategic plan to enhance bilateral trade.
They met in the backdrop of possible lifting of sanctions from Iran by the international community.
They agreed on the need of implementing the bilateral Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), including promotion of transparency and establishment of a mechanism that issues prior notification.
Expected freight train operations also came up for review and the Iranian side was reminded that in the Zaheden meeting in May this year, Pakistan had stressed the need for beginning the services on a regular basis.
In the subsequent meeting on August 19 and 20, both sides agreed to offer freight train services on the 1st and 15th of each month, subject to availability of cargo.
Pakistan proposed concessionary fares between Zahedan and Quetta by the time freight traffic picks up pace.
It was suggested that representatives from the respective ministries, responsible for agricultural matters, should participate in meetings of the Joint Working Group on Trade to facilitate decision-making regarding trade in agro-products.
“The Iranian delegation will convey all proposals and suggestions to the authorities concerned in their country and inform about the decisions later,” said the official in the Ministry of Commerce.
He added Iran was also interested in linking itself with the CPEC to expand its border markets with regional countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2015.