Tehran, Iran, February 27
By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:
Pakistani businessmen and bankers are in Iran to explore ways to broaden the scope of bilateral trade and economic relations.
Leader of a 26 members' delegation of the Lahore Chamber Of Commerce and Industry Almas Haider, who is a director of Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation, said on the sidelines of a meeting with Iranian counterparts from the Tehran Chamber of Commerce that his country is very hopeful to expand ties with Iran.
"After Tehran we are going to Shiraz and Mashhad for more talks," he told Trend February 27. "We have seized the moment of Iran being freed from sanctions and we congratulate Iranians for having negotiated so wisely during the nuclear talks."
"Iran is aiming at an economic growth rate of eight percent, which will be one of the best in the world," he noted, adding that "As soon as sanctions were lifted we decided to team up and visit Iran. We were planning on a delegation of 10 people, but there were so many businessmen eager to accompany us that in the end, our delegation included 26 people."
"Trade between Iran and Pakistan is aimed to rise to $5 billion a year in three years' time," he said. "Members of the current team are looking forward to setting up manufacturing plants or open offices in Iran, mostly in pharmaceuticals, plastics, as well as automation services."
Pakistani-Iranian trade started declining gradually from the level of $1321.3 million in 2008-2009 to a mere $218 million in 2013-2014. Pakistan's exports to Iran in 2013-2014 declined to $53 million from $ 97.7 million in 2012-2013.
He went on to add that Pakistan is going to make a good partner for Iran, "Especially now that there is less terrorism there. Also, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an example of the country's growth. Already 40 percent of it is constructed and it will be completed in two years. The corridor will not only help Pakistan, but Iran, Afghanistan, even Central Asia and Azerbaijan in trade."
Haider said that in 10-15 years, most trade growth was observed inside the region rather than between the continents, stressing the need for regional countries to improve their relations.
"We have to make travel easy, which means visa and road connections," he further said. "We also need energy to be more easily shared. There is already a pipeline from Turkmenistan. Regarding the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, after sanctions everything will be easier. We told our government to do what it takes to make the plan come true."
Pakistan has decided to lift sanctions against Iran and has devised a strategy to promote trade ties with the oil rich country, according to a ministerial meeting's decision in mid-February.
Islamabad will revive all economic and commercial relations with Tehran, including the areas of trade, investment, technology, banking, finance, and energy, according to a notification issued by the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.