Gholam-Hossein Shafeie made the remarks in a meeting with Muhammad Sheryar Khan, the Pakistani consul-general in Mashhad.
He also underlined the significant cultural and historical commonalities of Iran and Pakistan, as well as the opportunity of transit cooperation between the two countries with Russia.
Emphasizing the need to develop Iran-Pakistan trade relations and especially the implementation of agreements related to barter trade, the ICCIMA head said: “The economies of Iran and Pakistan complement each other due to the proximity of the two countries, and they have significant capacities for cooperation in this field, the use of which will lead to a jump in bilateral trade.”
“During the past two years, the government has taken new measures to develop economic relations with Pakistan, and efforts in the field of preferential trade and moving towards free trade have been put on the agenda. However, there are still problems in the implementation of these programs and economic interactions have not been realized as they should have been”, Shafeie further noted.
The Pakistani side, for his part, said, “I believe that the bilateral economic, political and cultural relations between the two countries are getting stronger and strengthening these relations as much as possible should be a priority for both sides. In this regard, we are ready to pursue any matters at the Pakistani consulate in Mashhad.”
As announced by the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), Iran has exported commodities worth $704 million to Pakistan during the first seven months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-October 22).
Morteza Emadi put the weight of exported goods at 1.6 million tons, and named petroleum gases, oil bitumen, industrial dry milk, liquefied natural gas and liquefied butane as the major exported products.
He also announced that Iran has imported 512,000 tons of commodities valued at $563 million from Pakistan in the first seven months of the present year.
The official named rice, mango, sesame seeds and banana as the main imported items.
In late October, ICCIMA and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) signed three memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the aim of expanding economic cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries.
The MOUs were signed during a visit of an Iranian private sector delegation headed by ICCIMA Head Gholam-Hossein Shafeie to the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore.
Based on the signed memorandums, the two sides agreed to strengthen comprehensive cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries, to establish a joint trade council of Iran and Pakistan, and to determine a mechanism to resolve trade disputes.
Accordingly, the Iran-Pakistan Joint Trade Council will work together with the Iran-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce to strengthen economic relations between the two neighbors.
ICCIMA and FPCCI will also resolve the trade disputes between businessmen and traders through a channel separated from the two countries’ legal systems.
During their visit to Pakistan, the Iranian delegates also attended a meeting with officials from the State Bank of Pakistan (the country’s central bank) in which the two sides discussed details of a barter trade mechanism between the two countries.
The Zahedan Chamber of Commerce from Iran and the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industries (QCCI) from Pakistan have been put in charge as coordinators for implementing and pursuing the barter trade mechanism between the two sides.
As reported, at the end of the meeting the two sides agreed to form a 10-member committee to work on the details of the mechanism and follow up on the related issues in the future.
Solving currency and customs issues for the easy passage of transit trucks and accelerating the implementation of the free trade agreement between Iran and Pakistan, along with using Iran's membership status in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), were also among the issues that were discussed in the meeting.
Details of the barter trade mechanism were also discussed in another meeting with the members of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) during that visit.
Speaking in the meeting, KCCI Head Mohammad Tariq Yousuf mentioned the unsatisfactory level of trade between the two countries and noted that the barter trade agreement would open new windows for the expansion of trade ties between the two sides.
Shafeie for his part mentioned Karachi as the economic capital of Pakistan, saying that despite the significant capacities on both sides, the level of commercial relations between the two countries is still very limited.
During their stay in Pakistan, the 26-member Iranian delegation, comprised of the head of the Iran-Pakistan Joint Chamber of commerce, the heads of the three provincial chambers of Isfahan, Zanjan, and Zahedan, the secretary general of the ECO chamber of commerce, and four MPs, visited the cities of Karachi and Lahore.
Promoting bilateral trade to five billion dollars was said to be among the main objectives of this visit.
After the trip of Iranian trade delegation to Pakistan, Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) and Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (TCCIMA) signed an MOU to pursue and develop free trade with Pakistan.
Signed by TPO Head Alireza Peyman-Pak and TCCIMA Head Masoud Khansari, the MOU is aimed at developing the exports of Iranian products to the Pakistani market.
Based on the MOU, TPO as a government body, and TCCIMA as a representative of the private sector are going to share their capabilities and development capacities to provide the basis for better identification of the Pakistani market and increase the export of Iranian goods to this country.
Preparation and formulation of laws and guidelines related to exports to Pakistan with the consultation and cooperation of TCCIMA, sending trade delegations to this country, and also cooperation to create financial and banking channels between Iran and Pakistan are also among the areas of cooperation between the two sides.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Peyman-Pak mentioned Pakistan as one of TPO’s priority markets for enhancing the country's business plans and emphasized that establishing direct transit as well as creating a financial and banking mechanism between Karachi and Tehran are two key axes in the development of business relations with this country.
Also, Khansari, in his speech, underlined the TCCIMA plans and actions in recent years to develop the economic relations of Iranian companies with neighboring countries and expressed the chamber’s full readiness to cooperate with TPO in order to develop exports to Pakistan.
He mentioned the exchange of several business delegations between Iran and Pakistan and the government's efforts for signing a free trade agreement between the two countries as positive steps for the development of economic relations, saying: “Establishing a free trade agreement is a big step towards long-term economic cooperation, especially the growth of Iran's exports to Pakistan.”