ISLAMABAD - Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost on Thursday said that Iran is ready to supply 1000-3000 megawatt electricity to Pakistan if Islamabad signs an agreement with Tehran.

He said Iran's gas pipeline (IP) project could address energy issues of Pakistan and bring many benefits to its economy by providing cheap power supply. He said Iran has spent millions of dollars to bring gas pipeline up to the border of Pakistan, but there was no progress on Pakistan's side. He was addressing business community during his visit to ICCI.

The Iranian envoy said though Pakistan-Iran trade has improved to $1.2 billion in 2017; however, it was not reflective of the true potential of both countries. He said that Iran was doing trade of billions of dollars with other regional countries and urged that Pakistani business community should make serious efforts to realise full potential of trade with Iran. About banking channels, he said it involved some technical discussions; however, the ball was now in Pakistan's court as Iran was ready to enter into any workable arrangement with Pakistan to facilitate the private sectors of both countries in banking transactions for bilateral trade.

He said the Iran’s president visited Pakistan twice which showed his country's seriousness to promote trade and economic relations with Pakistan. He said lot of time has been lost and Pakistan should now make strong efforts to promote economic cooperation with Iran for the better future of two nations. He assured that his embassy would extend all possible cooperation to Pakistani business community in exploring Iran for business prospects.

On the occasion, ICCI President Sheikh Amir Waheed said that Pakistan-Iran bilateral trade has been showing an inconsistent pattern and both countries should facilitate private sectors in trade promotion efforts. He said despite signing preferential trade agreement with Pakistan, Iran was maintaining high tariffs on many exportable products of Pakistan ranging from 90 percent to 200 percent, which was a serious hurdle in promoting trade with it. He urged that Iran should reduce its high tariffs on Pakistani products that would help in improving trade figure. He said frequent exchange of trade delegations and participating in exhibitions of each other country would greatly help in strengthening trade relations.

He identified Iran's permit system, frequent changes in import regime, import authorisation system, lack of banking channels and non-tariff barriers as other major bottlenecks in two-way trade.

He said if these issues were resolved, bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iran could go up to $5 billion in next few years. He said both countries have good potential to complement each other in many areas and they should focus on promoting business linkages between private sectors to explore all untapped areas of mutual cooperation.

ICCI Senior Vice President Muhammad Naveed and Vice President Nisar Mirza said that establishing border markets and opening additional crossing points on border would help in improving trade and both countries should take practical measures for this purpose. Mian Akram Farid, Mian Shaukat Masud, Noor Ahmed Khan, and others also spoke on the occasion and gave many suggestions to further enhance Pakistan-Iran trade and economic relations.