Pakistan will give basmati rice or wheat to Iran against the electricity dues of over $100 million the former needs to pay to the latter against the import of electricity.
In the presence of United Nations sanctions, it is not possible for Pakistan to pay dollars to Iran. Tehran has shown keen interest to import of basmati rice from Pakistan in return of electricity export.
These issues have been discussed in an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on facilitating Pakistan-Iran trade, within the ambit of UN sanction on Iran, the Pakistani News newspaper reported on July 18, citing Finance Secretary Waqar Masood.
Masood said that NTDC (National Transmission Dispatch Company) was willing to clear the outstanding dues of Iran on account of supply of electricity to border areas.
In this regard, commerce ministry is taking appropriate steps for commodity exchange. It was further informed that Iran had already laid down transmission lines up to their border for possible power supply to Gwadar and adjoining towns.
In the meeting, it has been highlighted that there are many items, which can be traded with Iran as the said items that (non-prescribed items) do not fall under jurisdiction of the UN sanctions. However, banks are hesitant for transactions. In the meeting, it has been decided to carve out the mechanism for trade of non-prescribed items through banks. Secretary Commerce informed the finance minister consultations are already at advanced stage for the supply of basmati rice and wheat to Iran on account of commodity exchange. He also informed that Iran had recently lifted ban on mango import from Pakistan and the gesture had set the pitch for enhanced barter trade.
Masood briefed the participants on the decisions made in the last meeting held on July 5, 2014 and progress made so far.
He said that in consultation with all the stakeholders, there were avenues, which could be followed for trading with Iran on non-prescribed items and through non-sanctioned entities.
The finance minister directed the concerned ministries and departments to resolve the outstanding issues immediately and remove impediments in order to exploit full potential of bilateral trade. He mentioned about putting on fast track all the pending issues for resolution in or before the Joint Economic Commission to be held soon.
The finance minister said that during the Prime Minister's visit to Iran, both the sides had reaffirmed their commitment that while remaining within the ambit of UN sanctions, mutual trade and cooperation would be enhanced with barter trade and commodities exchange mechanism. "We need to build mutual confidence to overcome the impediments in barter trade and commodity exchanges facilities enabling the two countries to benefit from their proximity and neighborhood," he said.