Tehran-Islamabad working on expanding bilateral trade

Iranian Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Hassan Abqari said, “Iran and Pakistan are working together to remove the obstacles in the way of expanding mutual trade”.  Abqari said, “Ways to address exchange and banking problems have been identified and pursued by the governments of both the countries.”

Abqari, who traveled to Islamabad on Friday to meet with Pakistani officials and discuss economic relations, pointed to the positive measures taken by the Pakistani government. He said, “Fortunately, relations between the two countries are at a very good level under the Government of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and we are hopeful about the outcomes of these mutual efforts.”

The official noted that Iran and Pakistan have a joint venture company, 50 percent of which is owned by the Iranian government and the other 50 percent by the Pakistani side.

“The Company is in a good condition and the works pertaining to the financial and credit institutions of the two sides are conducted through this joint venture” he added.

According to Abqari the major focus of the governments of Iran and Pakistan is the expansion of trade, especially in border areas.

He noted that this issue was addressed in a meeting with Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, Minister of Finance and Revenues of Pakistan in Islamabad on Friday.

Referring to the new conditions facing trade and economic relations of countries due to the outbreak of the coronavirus over the past year, the official said, “We consider these conditions as an opportunity for Iran and Pakistan to improve their previous level of trade relations; we are determined to move forward to resolve some issues related to financial and banking exchange.”

In the meeting with Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, the two sides had also discussed the issues related to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the two countries’ trade.

During the discussions, Sheikh informed Iran’s Deputy Economy Minister about his country’s comprehensive economic reform program that is aimed at achieving sustainable economic development.

Considering Pakistan’s relatively large consumer market, expansion of trade with the country and boosting exports to its market has become one of Iran’s priorities in recent years.

Iran’s exports to Pakistan in the past Iranian calendar year were reported at US$1.18 billion, but in the meantime, financial and banking problems have still created obstacles in the way of trade relations with this country.

Earlier this month, the two sides have held an online meeting to discuss issues related to developing border trade and reached an agreement to establish the two countries’ first joint border market.

* Abqari is also Head of Iran Foreign Investment Company (IFIC).

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