Pakistan, Iran: Businesses asked to cooperate as economies take off

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 ISLAMABAD: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Abdul Rauf Alam has said that economies of Pakistan and Iran are taking off and the time is ripe for the business community to search for opportunities in each other’s markets.

Speaking at the Pakistan-Iran Joint Business Council on Saturday, Alam termed the visit of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to Pakistan highly significant that would usher in a new era of economic, cultural and political relations.

He suggested that the two countries must benefit from the strength of each other and step up economic cooperation that stood much less than the actual potential.

He said Pakistan had one of the largest coal, salt and copper reserves and it held a significant place in the production of cotton, wheat, milk and beef, which provided an opportunity for the Iranian investors.

Apart from this, Pakistan’s middle class is the fifth largest in the world while the country’s expertise in textile and information technology can be of great use for Iran.

The FPCCI president was of the view that ports of Chabahar and Gwadar should not be competing with each other as cooperation would be more beneficial for the two sides.

He called for forging modern communication links and starting direct cargo flights without which trade could not flourish to reach new highs.

Alam noted that Pakistani exporters were facing various challenges including those related to visa and tariff as well as non-tariff barriers. This has forced many to engage in trade through Turkey, but it increases the cost of doing business by 15 to 20%.

“Iran should facilitate trade with Pakistan as involving a third country hurts the competitive edge of our exporters.”

He suggested that the government should consider importing 5,000 megawatts of electricity from Iran with an investment cost of $1.5 billion, adding it would revolutionise the industrial sector and the cost would be recovered within one year.

Alam revealed that three Pakistani banks including an Islamic bank had almost done spadework and they would be able to open letters of credit within six weeks for trade with Iran.

Earlier, Alam and Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture President Mohsen Jallalpour signed a memorandum of understanding for improving cooperation and establishing a joint chamber of commerce.

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