LAHORE - The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Thursday said the State Bank of Pakistan would select some local banks within next few days to facilitate trade with Iran.

Opening the banking channel with Iran will boost bilateral trade by one hundred percent within one year, said Zubair Tufail, president of FPCCI. Talking to Iranian Ambassador Mahdi Honar Doust, Tufail said, “We are pinning high hopes on the second round of FTA talks with Iran scheduled in July.” He said that despite many commonalities the volume of bilateral trade was unsatisfactory, but resumption of the banking channels would boost trade to five billion dollars per annum as desired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister.

Tufail said that business could bring the people of the two countries together and Iran could become a major exporter of petroleum products to Pakistan. He said that Pakistan could import quality pharmaceuticals and steel from Iran and export rice, meat, mutton, fruits and vegetables. Barter trade with Iran can also be explored, he said. A delegation of the FPCCI will visit Tehran soon to explore business opportunities. Both governments should take steps to make business easy, he said.

Tufail also called for improved air links between the two countries because many Pakistani businessmen go to Iran via Dubai.

On the occasion, Iranian Ambassador Mahdi Honar Doust said that trade between Iran and Afghanistan was three times greater than Pakistan-Iran trade and now it was double the Pakistan-Iran bilateral trade.

He said, ”We want to improve trade relations and a monthly meeting will be held between representatives of FPCCI and the embassy officials to find ways and means to improve the trade and overcome hurdles.”