President Tehran Chamber of Commerce & Industry (TCCI) Masoud Khansari has stressed the need to enhance interactions between the business communities of Iran and Pakistan in various sectors of the economy through regular exchange of trade delegations and organizing numerous exhibitions to promote the existing bilateral trade relations between the two brotherly countries.
Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), President TCCI said that instead of waiting for trade promotion strategies to be devised at the government level, the business communities will have to sit together and make collective efforts with a view to further promote trade and investment cooperation between the two neighboring countries. “Tehran Chamber and Karachi Chamber will have to seriously focus on connecting various Iranian and Pakistani companies with each other, besides holding regular interaction to discuss and explore trade and investment related opportunities in Iran and Pakistan”, he added.
Consul General of Iran Ahmed Mohammadi, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Senior Vice President KCCI Arshad Islam, Vice President Shahid Ismail and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present on the occasion.
Referring to Karachi’s huge contribution of 70 percent revenue to the national exchequer, President TCCI Masoud Khansari stated that Tehran also contributes around 50 to 60 percent revenue to the Iranian economy hence it was the responsibility Tehran and Karachi Chambers to play a major role in promoting bilateral trade and investment.
He said that due to the sanctions, Iran has focused on producing the required products and services on its own and has also strived hard to improve its bilateral trade with regional and neighboring countries so that the Iranian economy could stay afloat.
He was of the view that the official and documented bilateral trade volume between the brotherly countries stood at around US$1.5 billion but the overall trade figures, including the unofficial and undocumented trade, must be somewhere in between US$3 to US$4 billion. “Iran’s trade volume with Iraq stood at US$13 billion and around US$10 billion with UAE, followed by substantial trade with Turkey and others. We look forward to seeing Pakistan at the same level in terms of trade volume which Iran has been enjoying with Iraq and UAE etc.”, he added.
Masoud Khansari, while referring to President KCCI’s remarks about numerous MoUs signed between the two countries, said that signing these MoUs was important but the business communities must also express the intent and seriousness towards enhancing trade. “There are a lot of similarities and huge potential to improve trade and investment ties, hence the two chambers must make collective efforts. In this regard, information about capable companies having good reputation must be shared to facilitate trade while equal attention must also be given to follow-ups on numerous deals”, he added.
He also requested Karachi Chamber to send a high-level trade delegation to Iran after the holy month of Ramazan-ul-Mubarak to explore more new avenues of trade and investment cooperation and discussing ways and means of how to effectively deal with numerous trade barrier and obstacles.
Speaking on the occasion, Iranian Consul General Ahmed Mohammadi stated that the commercial section of Iranian Consulate has been making efforts to promote trade and investment between the two countries. Business community of Karachi must come forward to strengthen trade ties with their Iranian counterparts. “You may face some problems in the beginning but will certainly be able to find a way out and improve bilateral trade, which would surely create a win-win situation for Iran and Pakistan”, he said, “Being a representative of Iranian government in Karachi, it is my responsibility to resolve problems so I will certainly help you out and make efforts to pave way for enhanced trade between the two brotherly countries.”
Earlier, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, in his welcome address, stated that the business communities of the two brotherly countries will have to explore trade and investment opportunities in numerous sectors of the economy.
While referring to six MoUs signed between Pakistan and Iran since 2016, he said that not much activity was taking place despite these MoUs hence, the situation calls for greater cooperation between the business communities of both countries.
Highlighting the potentials for enhancing Pak-Iran bilateral trade relations, Agha Shahab said that opportunities were available in Iranian sectors of dairy, livestock, meat and beverages for Pakistani traders and investors. The two countries should select items having competitive and comparative advantage. Pakistan can enhance exports of wheat, sugar, rice and fruit to Iran. Iran has shown interest to import 500,000 tons rice from Pakistan and urged that a necessary mechanism for early shipment must be devised. Pakistan also needs to fulfill its fuel needs from Iran as it is a major player in the region.
He further stressed that infrastructural constraints should be sorted out to enhance bilateral trade via Quetta-Taftan land route and regular operation of “ECO container train” will lend impetus to cargo and transit facilities between the two countries. “Starting special direct flights from Quetta and Gilgit to Mashhad is a potential avenue for enhancing trade. In this respect, operations of flights of Iran Air should be restarted in Pakistan.
President KCCI said that the main stumbling block in promoting Pak-Iran bilateral trade is the lack of banking channels. There is a need to enhance banking channels between the two countries which would greatly improve trade. Pakistan and Iran should actively work to ensure that Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) set up between the 10 Muslim majority countries is boosting trade, otherwise, an additional body should be set up with less countries along the lines of Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which was dissolved in 1979, he added.
President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan presenting crest to President Tehran Chamber of Commerce & Industry Masoud Khansari during his visit to KCCI. Consul General of Iran Ahmed Mohammadi, Senior Vice President KCCI Arshad Islam, Vice President Shahid Ismail and KCCI Managing Committee Members are also seen in the picture.