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ISLAMABAD: Iran is all set to extend formal invitation to Pakistan to resume negotiation on Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as both countries are in close coordination on Five Year Strategic Trade Cooperation Plan (FYSTCP) to take their bilateral trade up to $ 5 billion per annum, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

According to agreed protocol of bilateral economic cooperation between both countries, at a recent meeting with Pakistani authorities Iranian side raised issues of high tariff on agro-products’ exports from Iran to Pakistan. The Pakistani side committed to consider the request of the Iranian side.

Both sides emphasised to promote implementation of the barter trade modalities, specifically on agriculture products.

Pakistan, Iran start political consultations

Both sides agreed to cooperate in agriculture research, especially in irrigation, water management, fruits, dates, tissue culture, dairy industries, embargo transfer technology, trans-boundaries pest and animal health vaccine.

Both sides also agreed to sign the finalised draft agreement in the field of animal health and veterinary in the forthcoming ministerial meeting.

Both sides agreed to renew the Mutual Recombination Agreement (MRA) in the field of quarantine and plant health within three months.

Iranian side asked for issuance of Import Permit for Iranian apple export to Pakistan. Pakistani side informed that the issuance of Import Permit for Iranian apple has already been started.

Iranian side raised the issue regarding invitation of Iranian Inspectors for mangoes heat treatment facilities. Pakistani side responded that Development of Plant Protection (DPP) is being planned for execution of heat treatment facilities inspection with the help of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

Both sides agreed to establish a Joint Committee for agriculture cooperation as already agreed in the 21st session of Joint Economic Commission (JEC) within one month.

On investment side, Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) agreed to look into the proposal of setting up of Urea Plant in Pakistan in collaboration with Iran. Iranian side proposed that a site in this regard may be identified. Iranian side informed that they are ready to study bilateral and trilateral investment in energy sector of Pakistan.

The Iranian head of delegation proposed to extend an invitation to the Ministry of Science and Technology Pakistan to visit Iran and explore avenues for collaboration on areas of mutual interest, i.e., Bio, Nano Technology, and Technology Park. Both sides agreed to collaborate under the existing framework to expand cooperative activities to tackle scientific challenges.

Both sides agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of common interest and mutual benefit.

On the issue of customs barriers, transmit issues, road and air transportation, both sides agreed that the matter regarding direct transportation of Iranian trucks to Quetta carrying export consignments from Iran will be taken up with relevant Customs Authority in Pakistan. Response including way forward will be communicated to Iranian side for the proposed meeting at Mirjaveh-Taftan border at Director General level. Preliminary meeting in this regard was held with relevant stakeholders at Custom House, Quetta on August 2, 2023. Accordingly, date for the proposed meeting will be finalised in coordination with Iranian side without any delay.

Bilateral agreement on establishment of joint custom gate on the Mirjaveh-Taftan boarder is in the final phase of inter-ministerial deliberations on the Pakistani side.

Pakistani side apprised that the development for first phase of Electronic Data Interchange (FDI) with Iranian Customs has been completed. However, the next phase requires live testing at Mirjaveh-Taftan border for which the Iranian side has been requested through Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to nominate an IT Resource Person/ Focal Person to coordinate with the Director General of Reforms and Automation Customs, Pakistan.

Pakistani side informed that the e-Transports Internationaux Routiers (e-TIR) is being developed by Directorate General of Reforms and Automation Customs, Pakistan. Two phases of the conformance tests have been successfully completed and the third phase is being executed in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Once Pakistan is declared an e-TIR compliant country by the NUECE, it will be in a position to share the proposal required for texting with Islamic Republic Iranian Customs Administration (IRICA).

In order to facilitate entry/ exit at border gate Taftan a joint meeting of stakeholders on ground, i.e., border guarders (Frontier Corps), Customs and National Logistic Cell (NLC) and representative of both countries be convened to ascertain and verify scope of work widening the gate.

Iranian side sought permission to allow Iranian drivers without visa, since they are unloading the cargo at Taftan, may be granted. Pakistani side reaffirmed consideration of proposal after discussion with Ministry of Interior, Pakistan.

Both sides discussed outstanding matters related to air transportation. Pakistani side informed that upon invitation from Iranian Aeronautical Authority, the case for holding a technical expert meeting between the two sides is under process, which will be completed soon.

All outstanding matters may be discussed between the two sides at expert level technical meeting including the ongoing matters pertaining to acceptance of designation and enhancement of cooperation proposed to be held in the near future.

During discussion on development of trade and border market, Iranian side agreed to extend formal invitation to resume negotiation on Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Iranian side has agreed to look into non-operationalization of border market at Mand-Pishin. Furthermore, Pakistani side will share list of tradable items and concessions (duties and taxes) on these items with the Iranian side.

Pakistani side has received concurrence/ comments on Five Year Strategic Trade Cooperation Plan (FYSTCP) from Iranian side through official channels.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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