ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Iran have agreed to remove the bottlenecks that impeded the growth of the bilateral trade. During the 6th meeting of the Pak-Iran Joint Trade Commission (JTC) held here on Wednesday, both the sides discussed the hindrances in the way of improving bilateral trade. The meeting was jointly co-chaired by Federal Minister for Commerce of Pakistan Makhdoom Amin Fahim and his Iranian counterpart Mehdi Ghazanfari. The JTC provides a useful institutional arrangement for the two countries to discuss ways and means for further improving the bilateral relations between the two countries, and to remove the bottlenecks that may impede the growth of bilateral trade, Makhdoom Amin Fahim said in his remarks. In the last half decade, the bilateral trade rose from $389 million to $1.2 billion, the Minister further said and added that it was essential to deepen the existing PTA (Preferential Trade Agreement) by granting mutually agreed tariff concessions on export products. The meeting reviewed the implementation status of the decisions made in the last JTC held in Tehran in May 2009. It discussed ways and means as how to deepen the existing PTA base. Pakistan and Iran have signed the PTA in March 2004, which became operational from September 2006. Under PTA, Pakistan and Iran have granted tariff concessions on more than 600 items. Later, addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Iranian Commerce Minister Mahdi Ghanzanfari said, Iran and Pakistan has great potential of trade, whereas private sectors of both the countries should come forward to exploit trade opportunities. The Minister said that Iran has more than $150 billion of exports and its imports are $50 billion, and now Iran is looking to enhance trade relations with the Asian countries, instead of western world. He said that currently Iran trade with China, India and UAE is on the rise as compared to Pakistan and the purpose of his visit was to look into those issues that are hampering the trade between the two countries. The Minister informed that Iran has increased number of items in the PTA list to boost the current level of trade. He said that Pakistan could export pharmaceutical products, halal food and meat in the Iranian market that is currently being imported from Australia. ICCI President Mahfooz Elahi was of the view that though the trade between the two countries is picking up the momentum, which has crossed one billion dollars figure, but Iranian side should look at the issue high tariff and non-tariff barriers that are hampering Pakistans exports in the Iranian market. He also pointed out that stringent quarantine requirements pose a big impediment in enhancing Pakistans exports of fruits. These hard quarantine conditions imposed by the Plant protection Department of Iran, which are even stricter than those of European Union, offer great problems in smooth supply of fruits through formal channels and encourage traders on both sides to employ informal ways of trade, he said. The President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Senator Haji Ghulam Ali speaking at this occasion said that Muslim Ummah must be united to overcome the challenges that are confronting the Muslim word. He said that the visit of the Minister will go a long way in enhancing the trade between Iran and Pakistan by addressing barriers to trade.