Pakistan yet to get response from Iran on FTA proposal

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2016-11-28 13:30:00 – Islamabad

The Pakistan’s proposal of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) made following Iranian President Hassan Rowhani’s visit to Pakistan in March when both the countries had decided to boost bilateral trade from $1 billion to $5 billion over the next five years has not yet got response from Iran, a highly-placed source said on Sunday.

Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, who headed the Pakistani delegation during the 7th Pakistan-Iran Joint Trade Committee meeting last year in the Iranian capital, expressed concern over arbitrary and unilateral import bans, high textile tariffs and the import authorisation system and called for early elimination of all non-tariff barriers under the 2006 Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).

However, commerce ministry officials are confident that both the countries would resolve their differences in due course of time because there is a strong urge on both the sides to honour the agreements reached between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Rowhani.

Iran is set to open two new land routes, the Pishin-Mand and Reemand-Gadb routes with Pakistan which would paly a significant role and a strong effort to bolster bilateral trade to $5 billion, a senior commerce ministry official said.

Officials and business circles in Pakistan hoped that the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran could open up massive trade opportunities for both the countries.

Their bilateral trade can get a boost if both the two sides encourage border markets along their 930km-long frontier. Opening of new trade posts along the border, both on the Pakistani side — were agreed between the two countries during Dastgir’s visit to Teheran.

Another important factor, contributing towards enhancing bilateral trade, is the blood relationship that exists between the Baloch living on both sides of the border which is driving the two countries to facilitate border trade.

The trade is likely to receive further boost due to the improved security situation in Balochistan. The planned joining of Iran in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in the near future would not only help both the countries to have new avenues for more economic cooperation, but would also contribute towards creating an atmosphere for exemplary diplomatic relations.

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