ISLAMABAD: Iranian Ambassador Dr Reza Amiri Moghadam said on Thursday that a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is likely to be finalised in the upcoming visit of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Pakistan.

Addressing the business community during his visit to the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), the Iranian envoy said the FTA would increase mutual trade and several bilateral economic and trade agreements would also be signed during the visit.

He also said that the two countries need to have strong air, maritime and sea links, which will strengthen the economic relations and Pakistan will also be connected to regional and global trade.

The ambassador emphasised the closeness of maritime links, especially Karachi and Gwadar and Chabahar and Bandar Abbas ports and said that Gwadar and Chabahar should be declared as sister ports.

The Iranian ambassador said that the current bilateral trade volume was just $2.5 billion, which increased by 11 per cent in the last 11 months.

“After the FTA and bilateral agreements for the promotion of mutual trade, there is a strong possibility that the mutual trade between Pakistan and Iran would reach $5bn in the next few years,” he added.

He said that Pakistan and Iran can fulfil 70pc of each other’s needs by engaging in mutual trade, just as Iran imports halal meat, Pakistan can do a lot of work in Iran in this sector.

The envoy added that the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline was a significant project, which would benefit both the domestic and industrial sectors of Pakistan.

“Iran is serious about resolving Pakistan’s energy problems and that is why Tehran completed the gas pipeline project for $1bn in 2009 so that Pakistan could meet its energy needs,” he said, adding that it was essential that the project is completed at the earliest.

He added that Iran was already trading in gas and the energy sector with Turkiye, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, therefore Pakistan can also follow the procedure adopted by these countries.

He acknowledged that the banking channel between Pakistan and Iran was a serious issue, but Iran has banking links with Turkiye, Bahrain and Iraq.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2024

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