ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Iran Mehdi Honardoost on Friday said that 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.

While addressing business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), he said that despite having a preferential trade agreement between the two countries, Iran’s trade with Afghanistan was five times more than Pakistan. He said Iran has $20 billion annual bilateral trade with Turkey and $50 billion with China, but almost negligible trade with Pakistan, which was unfortunate. 

When the Iranian envoy was informed that his country has imposed high tariffs on some Pakistani products, he said that signing of free trade agreement between Iran and Pakistan would resolve all these problems. 

He said Iranians preferred Pakistani products and stressed that Pakistan should step up efforts for early signing of FTA with Iran. He said Iran’s biotechnology was better than many European countries and added that Pakistan could achieve beneficial results for its economy by enhancing cooperation with Iran in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and other fields. 

He said one Iranian company spent $1 million to bring electricity from Iran to Gwadar, but was not getting encouraging response from Pakistan. He assured that his embassy would fully cooperate with Pakistani business community in enhancing trade with Iran.

Speaking at the occasion, President Khalid Iqbal Malik, Senior Vice President Khalid Malik and Vice President Tahir Ayub, ICCI said that Iran has imposed high tariffs on Pakistani products including textiles, clothing, leather products, rice, fruits and vegetables which ranged from 90% to 200% and stressed that Iran should reconsider its high tariffs to facilitate Pakistan’s private sector in promoting trade with it. 

They said that Iran maintained a permit system for imports and whenever it wanted to restrict import of certain items, it refused issuing import permits which was also hindering exports of Pakistan to Iran. They emphasized that Iran should review its import permit system to facilitate Pakistani exporters.

Zafar Bakhtawari, Khalid Chaudhry, Zikria A Zia, Shamim Ahmed Khan, Nasira Ali and others also spoke at the occasion and that stressed that Pakistan and Iran could focus on frequent exchange of trade delegations and organizing exhibitions in each other country to explore new avenues of two way trade promotion. 

They said Pakistan should import gas and electricity from Iran to overcome its energy crisis and facilitate growth of business and industrial activities in the country.