ISLAMABAD: Iran is desirous of participating in the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) which is one of the greatest projects in the history of the region, Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoust said on Friday.

During a visit to the capital office of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), the Iranian envoy said his country has the capability to help the development of Pakistan’s economy through energy supply and construction of roads, railways dams and others area.

“At the same time, Pakistani textiles, rice, surgical goods, sports goods and agricultural products are in great demand in Iran,” he added.

However, Mr Honardoust acknowledged that trade and commerce between the two countries has been restricted due to lack of banking channels.

“Bilateral trade will get a boost after resolution of problems regarding banking which would disappear soon,” he added.

During his first visit to the FPCCI’s Islamabad office, the Iranian ambassador was welcomed by President FPCCI Abdul Rauf Alam, VP FPCCI Zafar Bakhtwari, former presidents ICCI Khalid Jaweed, Ijaz Abbasi, Chairman Coordination FPCCI Malik Sohail and others.

Mr Honardoust said that Iranian gas is the cheapest, fastest and most dependable source of energy for Pakistan.

“This project should be initiated at a fast track and soon Iran would complete its part of the pipeline at the cost of $2 billion,” he said.

Mr Honardoust dispelled the impression that international sanctions would restrict the IP gas pipeline project and said that many countries including China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea continued to buy energy from Iran during and after sanctions.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr Alam said Pakistan and Iran has already decided to increase annual trade volumes between the two countries to $5bn by 2021 for which efforts are needed.

Gwadar and Chabahar Ports are not rivals but they would supplement each other making the region centre of maritime trade, he said.

“Besides Pakistan can increase electricity imports from Iran but for which Tehran must reduce the price to make it competitive and attractive,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2016

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