Pakistan to negotiate FTA with Iran: Khurram

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 19 (APP): Minster for Commerce, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that in the wake of lifting of sanctions on Iran, Pakistan is interested “to negotiate” a Free Trade Agreement with Iran.
Talking to newly appointed Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan,Mehdi Honardost, who called on him here Tuesday, the minister said that draft of FTA template can be forwarded to the concerned authorities in Iran as soon as they express their willingness.
He said that the lifting sanctions from Iran has provided Pakistan with a historic opportunity to raise mutual trade and investment to new heights as the leaders of the two nations
had envisioned in their meeting in 2014.
He was of the view that the next logical step after a Preferential Trade Agreement is an FTA and Pakistan couldn’t find a better time to initiate negotiation on new Trade Agreement than
right after the removal of sanctions from Iran.
New circumstances merits new agreements and enhanced cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two neighbors, he added. The minster said that the banking sectors of the two countries will establish active linkages within weeks to facilitate the
traders to channel their payments.  In the past few years, lack of recognized and trustable
payment mechanism through banks proved to be the single largest factor hindering bilateral trade, he added.
Bilateral trade which was nearing $1 billion was reduced drastically as a result of sanctions and the unwillingness of banks to finance trade, he remarked.
The last hurdle in resuming smooth trade relations between the two countries has been taken away thus providing opportunity to implement the projects which have been in limbo since last few years, he added.
Pakistan, he said wants more predictability in tariffs from Iran on agricultural produces and their products. Iranian duties on agriculture fluctuate widely depending upon the time of harvest ranging from on-seasonal highs to off-seasonal lows.
He said that two sides need to agree on Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary standards as this proves an unwanted barrier in bilateral trade.
The conclusion of an FTA between Pakistan and Iran and inclusion of Iran back into the world trading system would bring more predictability and clarity and the seasonal shifts in duties
and trading pattern would give way to surer trading regime, he observed.
Khurram Dastgir said that Pakistan has plan to construct the three border posts on the Iranian border on modern lines with twenty first century infrastructure in order to facilitate the land trade.These posts will be linked through a single road which would be further connected with the main arteries leading north, he added.The Iranian Ambassador showed his government’s resolve to reactivate the trade relations after the removal of sanctions
especially with the immediate neighbors.
He was of the view that the supply of Iranian energy can prove to be a turning point for Pakistan’s economy.