LAHORE: Ambassador of Iran Dr Reza Amiri Moghaddam expressed optimism about two key initiatives that are being pursued by the current government, highlighting their potential for economic growth. These initiatives included the Investment Facilitation Council and the Barter Trade Mechanism, both of which are showing promising results.
Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI), alongside Consul General of Iran in Lahore Mehran Movahhedfar, Ambassador Moghaddam stressed the importance of reducing trade costs, with a focus on transportation to enhance the competitiveness of products. He noted that Pakistan and Iran share a secure 1000-kilometer border with no border disputes, making it convenient to trade and reduce transportation costs. He also inaugurated the Iran Desk established at LCCI.
Dr Reza Moghaddam revealed that three border markets are currently operational, with three more in development, which are expected to significantly boost bilateral trade.
The ambassador emphasized the fruitful meetings he has had with political, military, and business leaders since assuming his post in Pakistan four months ago. All parties have expressed a shared commitment to enhancing bilateral trade.
Highlighting the deep-rooted cultural and historic ties between the two countries, the ambassador stressed the need to translate these bonds into robust trade relations. He noted that during a visit by the Iranian foreign minister, an agreement was reached to increase bilateral trade to $ 5 billion, with the current trade volume standing at under $ 3 billion.
LCCI President Kashif Anwar welcomed the ambassador of Iran and underscored the importance of their discussions, focusing on trade and diplomatic relations.
Kashif Anwar highlighted the need for efficient transportation to reduce trade costs and the potential for Pakistan and Iran to trade from various points along their shared border.
He praised the Iranian delegation’s visit to Lahore in February 2020, which covered crucial sectors such as pharmaceuticals, energy, petrochemicals, rice, livestock, textiles, and garments. During the visit, both sides emphasized the importance of fully operationalizing the existing Preferential Trade Agreement until a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is finalized.
Kashif Anwar reiterated the importance of the strong cultural and historical ties between Pakistan and Iran and expressed the desire to transform these ties into robust economic and trade relations. He extended his gratitude to Iranian diplomats for their support and responsiveness to LCCI requests.
The LCCI chief highlighted the active participation of Lahore-based businessmen in Tehran Expo in May 2023 and anticipated even greater involvement in the upcoming Iran Packaging and Printing Expo scheduled for October 2-5, 2023, in Tehran.
Anwar called for sharing exhibition calendars between the two countries to maximize business participation in major expos organized by Pakistan and Iran.
The LCCI president also shed light on the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), established by the Government of Pakistan to expedite investments in key sectors, including defense, agriculture, minerals, information technology/telecommunication, and energy. He encouraged the Iranian business community to consider investing in Pakistan through joint ventures in these sectors.
Regarding the recently initiated Barter Trade Mechanism, Kashif Anwar applauded the decision and its potential to benefit both Pakistan and Iran. He noted the opportunity for Iran to import goods such as rice, meat, textiles, surgical instruments, sports equipment, fruits, vegetables, and pharmaceuticals from Pakistan while exporting LPG, industrial raw materials, and chemicals in return.
Kashif Anwar informed Ambassador Dr Reza Amiri Moghaddam about LCCI’s efforts to establish communication links between its 32,000 members and Iranian counterparts.
He also expressed the need for detailed information on Iran’s major imports and duty structures, highlighting the importance of collaboration to negotiate favorable import duty rates for Pakistani goods.
To facilitate trade, Kashif Anwar called for strengthening banking channels between the two countries and suggested the establishment of reciprocal financial institutions in Pakistan and Iran.
Lastly, the LCCI president revealed the establishment of a dedicated Iran Desk at LCCI, expressing gratitude to the Iranian Ambassador for inaugurating it. He mentioned the organization’s plans to host a Pakistan-Iran Trade Conference in Lahore, engaging major Iranian Chambers to attend and explore untapped trade and investment potential.
The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Iranian delegation concluded the meeting with a commitment to strengthening bilateral trade relations and fostering economic growth between Pakistan and Iran.
The productive discussions between Pakistan and Iran in this meeting reflect a growing interest in leveraging economic opportunities and enhancing trade relations between the two nations.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023