KARACHI: An eight-member high level delegation from Iran, which was led by the Managing Director of Milad-e-Noor Ali Mohtassham Amiri during its visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday, expressed the eagerness to improve trade ties with the Pakistani business community which would surely result in further improving the existing trade volume between the countries.

Commercial Attaché of the Iranian Consulate in Karachi Mahmoud Hajy Yousefi Pour, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Senior Vice President Arshad Islam, Vice President Shahid Ismail, Former President Haroon Agar and KCCI Managing Committee members attended the meeting.

Managing Director of Milad-e-Noor Ali Mohtassham Amiri stated that they were intending to improve trade ties with Pakistan and if serious efforts are made from both side, Pakistan and Iran can certainly become powerful partners.

Commercial Attaché of the Iranian Consulate in Karachi Mahmoud Hajy Yousefi Pour, in his short remarks, pointed out that huge potential exists to enhance trade and investment cooperation between the two countries but because of some hurdles, trade was not prospering at the desired pace which requires attention.

Earlier, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, while welcoming the Iranian delegation, stated that despite being brotherly countries, trade remains low hence, Pakistan and Iran must make collective efforts to explore new avenues. It has always been KCCI’s struggle to promote bilateral trade and the Chamber has a very positive approach towards improving trade ties particularly with neighboring countries.

He pointed out that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iran was much less than the potential as Pakistan exports stood at a mere $330.2 million while the imports were around $1.247 billion during 2018.

Agha Shahab noted that the negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are underway as both the countries have shared their desire of upgrading Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) into Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for which initial drafts have already been shared while the State Bank of Pakistan has also shared draft of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for signing its Banking Paying Arrangement (BPA) with Iran’s Iranian Bank Markazi Jomhouri. Both countries have already signed MoU through which channels would be opened in the central banks of both the countries for trade transactions that would reduce the usage of dollar account for Letter of Credit (LC) clearance.

He hoped that the desperately needed proper banking channel between Pakistan and Iran becomes a reality soon which would surely boost the existing trade ties.

He was of the opinion that abundant opportunities were available in the Iranian dairy, livestock, meat and beverages sectors for Pakistani traders and investors while Pakistan can also take benefit of Iran’s petrochemical sector.

Agha Shahab underscored the need to sort out infrastructural constraints to enhance bilateral trade via Quetta-Taftan land route whereas regular operation of ECO container train will lend impetus to cargo and transit facilities between the two countries.

While underscoring the need for a realistic approach, President KCCI said that KCCI was keen to strengthen trade ties with their counterparts in Iran.