Lahore, May 23, 2012 (PPI-OT): While pledging to enhance the volume of two-way trade to 10 billion dollars from existing a bit over one billion dollar, the Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Reza Haghighian has said talks on gas and electricity projects are well on way and would be materialised soon.
The Ambassador was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and industry on Wednesday. LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, Iranian Consul General in Lahore Mohammad Hussain Bani Asadi and former LCCI President Mohsin Raza Bukhari also spoke on the occasion.
The Ambassador said that the business community in the two countries would have to increase interaction to share their experiences in the larger interests of the people of two brotherly nations who have many commonalities.
He said that the volume of mutual trade between Pakistan and Iran does not match the level of their brotherly relations. He said that both the countries and their respective trade bodies would have to focus on expansion of trade by holding single country exhibitions or through trade delegations to each other’s country.
The Ambassador said that it was the duty of the chambers of commerce both in Iran and Pakistan to ensure dissemination of sector-specific and trade-related information. He said that both the countries should also share their experiences in the field of science and technology also.
Ali Reza Haghighian said that a strategy would be evolved to remove the impediments coming the way of two-way trade and to achieve the desired results new targets would be set in the light of past experiences.
He said that Agriculture, Livestock and Garments sectors in Iran have a lot of opportunities of investment therefore Pakistani business community should avail this opportunity.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President called for measures to curb the menace of smuggling that is fast spreading its tentacles and coming in the way of expansion of two-way trade. He said that bilateral trade from the last some years is constantly maintaining the level of over one billion dollars. Like from 2008 to 2010, it stood around US$ 1.16 billion, US$ 1.21 billion and US$ 1.07 billion respectively. There exists a lot of potential to take it to over US$ 10 billion mark if smuggling is curtailed and direct trade is started instead of trading via third destination.
The LCCI President said that though traditionally, the balance of trade favours Iran but currently this gap is increasing from the last couple of years. Trade trends confirm that our imports from Iran are sure to go over one billion dollars. In contrast to that our exports to Iran are constantly loosing the momentum. It stood around US$ 426 million in 2008 which dropped to US$ 252 million in 2009 and went further down to US$ 182 million in 2010.
“We would like to have some greater share in bilateral trade which may guarantee some economic benefits to Pakistan as well. By having some access to trade inquiries, we can improve the scenario.”
Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said that facilitating bilateral trade in local currencies can be instrumental in seriously improving two way trade. China and Russia have already started trade in their local currencies. Barter trade should also be actively facilitated since it can be highly efficient mode of buying and selling. It is high time that we also put in place such mechanisms.
The LCCI President said that it is good to note that some joint ventures are underway between Iran and Pakistan for instance exporting meat to Iran. Likewise Pakistan’s dairy sector can also be another sector to be jointly ventured by Pakistani and Iranian companies. Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said that once the Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline Project is commenced then the two way trade relations between two countries will get further strong and deep. The proposal to import electricity from Iran is also under consideration which has great potential to pave the way for greater and freer two way trade.
For more information, contact:
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)
Lahore -54000, Pakistan
Tel: +9242 111 222 499
Fax: +92 42 636 8854