Regional connectivity vital as Pak-Iran bilateral trade reaches $2.3 billion: SCCI VP

ISLAMABAD - The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Vice President Mian Anjum Nisar said the bilateral trade between Iran and Pakistan has reached over $2.3 billion, expressing the resolve to increase bilateral trade to $5 billion under a five-year trade cooperation plan and stressing the need for enhancing more cooperation in areas of economy and trade and investment between Pakistan, Iran, China and Turkey, as the regional connectivity is the only way to uplift the country. 
Mian Anjum Nisar, who is also BMP Chairman and FPCCI former president, was of the view that the current volumes of bilateral trade is far behind then and actual potential, asking the authorities to take serious measures to remove hurdles in this regard. He said that both Pakistan and Iran can help each other in different sectors. He said both the countries are committed to increase bilateral trade to new high levels. He called for promoting cooperation in the economy, trade and tourism under regional mechanism. He said setting up a special economic free trade region along the common border would help to increase trade between the two countries, as there is potential to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion in next few years.
SAARC Chamber VP believed that the completion of the IP gas pipeline project will definitely serve the national interest of the two countries, as the businessmen wanted to see this gas pipeline be completed, finalised, and operationalised as soon as possible to end up our power crisis.
It is to be noted that the Five-Year Trade Cooperation Plan between Pakistan and Iran (2023-28), which inter alia, sets a bilateral trade target of $5 billion, prioritises removing impediments on bilateral trade, finalisation of the FTA, and establishment of institutional linkages between our respective private sectors, Protocol on Bilateral Economic Consultations, encompassing the rich and in-depth sectoral discussions held between the two sides, and protocol on the 3rd meeting of the Joint Investment Committee (JIC) between Pakistan and Iran, on issue of bilateral investments.
He said the two sides should also find solutions to the existing banking and financial problems between the two countries within the framework of international rules and regulations. Mian Anjum Nisar called for promoting cooperation in economy, trade, and tourism under regional mechanisms, adding that the two sides should be fully committed to increasing the bilateral trade to $5 billion. It is good that the two sides have agreed to set up a special economic free trade region along the common border points.
He was of the view that there is a need to activate more formats of cooperation in areas of economy, trade, and creation of jobs for the people of the two countries. One of these regional mechanisms is the one between Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan, he said, adding that another one is between China, Pakistan, and Iran when it comes to joint investment and other areas of mutual interest.
He also emphasised the role of the two parliaments in advancing and enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries. “We are also of the firm belief that Iran and Pakistan are like one unified country. We are two people living in two different geographies,” he maintained. He said that the only solution to the problems in Afghanistan lies within the framework of regional initiatives. He said that it is the religious and humanitarian responsibility of the two countries to support the Afghan people, adding that sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan will benefit the whole region. “I am confident that the steps we are taking will chart the course for a long-term and durable economic partnership between our two countries in the months and years ahead,” the SCCI VP said.
He added that Pakistan and Iran enjoy a complete convergence of views on all issues of mutual interest. “We believe that our prosperity and development is firmly intertwined with peace and stability of our neighbourhood and the region,” Nisar said. He further stated that Pakistan espouses a vision for greater regional integration based on enhanced trade and connectivity. To this end, he added that the two sides have agreed to prioritise operationalisation of the five remaining border markets, by the end of this year. “We also discussed ways and means to leverage our unique strategic location, as a conduit between South, Central and West Asia,” he said, adding that they also agreed that the ECO is uniquely placed to play this role and the two countries will work with other ECO states towards achieving this goal.
He said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is critically important for the economy of Pakistan as the project was initiated at the time when no one was ready to invest in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under this project could not be established within time. As a result the industries could not get boost which resulted in increase of unemployment, he said, adding that recent visit of Chinese vice premier will bring fruitful outcome. The CPEC will bring economic stability in the region and will change the destiny of the regional countries, he added.

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