ISLAMABAD: Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost on Friday urged Pakistan to step up efforts for early finalisation of the free trade agreement (FTA).
The demand came from the envoy at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) where he was addressing the business community of the federal capital.
“It is very unfortunate that trade with Pakistan is almost negligible”, he said, adding that Iran has $20 billion annual bilateral trade with Turkey and $50bn with China.
Pakistan has already sent the draft of the FTA to Tehran and is awaiting response. Both sides estimate to increase bilateral trade to $5bn from the existing $1bn in the next five years in the wake of the FTA.
The businessmen appraised the Iranian envoy that his country has imposed high tariffs on some Pakistani products. The envoy said that signing of FTA between Iran and Pakistan would resolve all these problems.
Mr Honardoost said Pakistan and Iran have tremendous potential to promote bilateral trade in various sectors, but lack of payment mechanism through banking channels was the major hurdle in realising these goals.
He said one Iranian company made an initial investment to bring electricity from Iran to Gwadar but it was not getting a positive response from Pakistan. He assured that his embassy would fully cooperate with Pakistani business community in enhancing trade with Iran.
ICCI President Khalid Iqbal Malik said Iran has imposed high tariffs on Pakistani products, including textiles, clothing and leather products, which ranged from 90pc to 200pc.
Published in Dawn December 10th, 2016