Iran expresses consent over Pakistan’s proposal for FTA: Khurram


PESHAWAR, Sept 1 (APP): Iranian government has expressed its consent over offer of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) from Pakistan and negotiations are in progress for fulfilling officials requirements to finalize the accord between two neighbouring countries.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Commerce, Textile and Industry, Engr Khurram Dastagir during a meeting with business community of KP here at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI) on Thursday.

President KPCCI, Zulfiqar Ali and prominent businessmen including Zahid Shinwari, Ghazanfar Bilour, Riaz Arshad, Malik Niaz and others were also present on the occasion.

Pakistan had floated the proposal of signing of FTA between Pakistan and Iran during visit of Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani to our country a few months earlier, Khurram said.

After a passage of five months, Iranian government has conveyed its consent over the proposal and now negotiations are in progress for fulfilling official requirements which may take few months, he added.

He said Pakistan is also going to sign FTAs with Turkey and Thailand and in this regard, public hearing would be held in September for collecting suggestions of businessmen and other stakeholders.

He also urged KPCCI members to participate in public hearing and submit their suggestions over signing of FTAs with Thailand and Turkey.

He said Pakistan government also extended offer of Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) to Afghanistan, but has not received reply yet.

Federal Minister also informed KPCCI members that the volume of Afghan Transit Trade has shown increase during the last two years.

The official data of commerce ministry negates the impression that Afghan Transit Trade is decreasing from the last several years and is diverted to Iran from Chabahar Sea Port.

Engr Khurram Dastagir said there was decline in transit trade during the year 2011 and 2012 after signing of new Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. However, he went on to say, the trade volume has increased to dollar 2550 million in 2015 from dollar 1319 million in fiscal year 2013-14.

Similarly, he said the trade figure between Pakistan and Afghanistan is also satisfactory which is recorded at dollar 1.96 billion in the previous fiscal year.

Federal Minister for Commerce also apprised businessmen of KP that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will soon perform ground breaking of Peshawar Expo Center as arrangements have been finalized with KP government for handing over land.

He said the project was postponed due to delay in handing over land for the center, but now the agreement reached between Federal and Provincial governments and soon its inauguration will be performed by PM.

In response to a demand for allocation of funds to KPCCI through Export Development Fund (EDF), Engr Khurram Dastagir asked businessmen to send proposals for launching different projects and funds would be released to them through EDF.

While expressing his views over recommendation of increasing trade with Central Asian Countries (CAR), Khurram Dastagir said Pakistan is also considering the option of signing a bilateral trade agreement with Tajikistan.

If there are some problems from Afghanistan, we can also develop a road link with Tajikistan through China, he said.

He said the government is focusing on increasing its trade at global level and for this purpose, new Commercial Officers have been appointed at embassies of Pakistan in different countries.

He informed businessmen that an Economic Minister is soon assuming the charge in Kabul with the task of improving trade relations between the two countries. Similarly, Commercial Officer is also appointed for Qanhadar city.

About double collection of Infrastructure Development Cess from KP exporters by governments of Sindh and KP, Commerce Minister said the matter was discussed at higher level and would be resolved soon amicably.

He also asked KPCCI to constitute delegations for sending them to different countries and Commerce Ministry will extend full support in this regard.

In reply to a question about CPEC, Khurram Dastagir said federal government is giving full consideration to western route of the project and in this connection, several schemes are inaugurated.