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Iran Signs Agreement With Pakistan to Enhance Trade Relations, Rail Connectivity

Iran Signs Agreement With Pakistan to Enhance Trade Relations, Rail ConnectivityIran Signs Agreement With Pakistan to Enhance Trade Relations, Rail Connectivity

Pakistan and Iran have agreed to enhance trade relations and improve rail connectivity.
The understanding came at the 10th round of Pakistan-Iran Political Consultations in Islamabad, Daily Times reported on Wednesday.
The Pakistani side was led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua while Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi headed the Iranian side.
Measures to enhance bilateral trade to achieve the annual target of $5 billion by facilitating business ties, scaling down trade barriers and expediting preferential trade were discussed by the two sides.
Both sides agreed to hold the 21st session of the Joint Economic Commission early next year.
They also discussed ways and means of facilitating the growing number of pilgrims traveling annually to Iran from Pakistan.
It was noted that supporting an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process is the best way to overcome the serious security and politico-economic challenges facing Pakistan and Iran.
They agreed that a coordinated approach in this regard was important to safeguard the core interests of the two countries.
Views were also exchanged on other important regional and international issues, including the aftermath of the US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the situation of human rights in Kashmir and the conflict in Middle East.

> Trade Potentials, Obstacles Discussed at LCCI
Addressing the business community at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in October, Iran Consul General Reza Nazeri said Iran wants stronger trade and economic ties with Pakistan, therefore barter trade should be encouraged, as it will be equally beneficial for both countries.
“Oil, chemical, gas and other sectors of the economy should be focused on for mutual trade. Pakistan has a distinguished status in milk production and Iran’s experience in dairy sector can be beneficial in this regard,” he said.
The consul general pointed out that Iran had massive construction potential and could cooperate with Pakistan in that area. He underlined that both countries should join hands for the promotion of tourism, as the two had immense potential in the field.
Nazeri lamented that lack of banking channels between the two countries was troublesome. 
“Last year, Iran signed an agreement with the previous Pakistan government in this regard. I will contact the current Punjab government to reactivate this agreement,” he said.
LCCI President Almas Hyder pointed out that over the years, the chamber and Iran's Consulate had worked hand in hand. He appreciated the efforts of Iran's consul general in aiding the ease of doing business through frequent direct flights between the two countries.
“Both countries have huge domestic markets and a unique geostrategic competitive advantage. In order to utilize each other’s strength, Pakistan and Iran will have to work jointly,” he concluded.

> Avenues of Boosting Trade Ties Surveyed at ICCIMA
President of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Gholamhossein Shafei met with Pakistan's Ambassador to Iran Riffat Masood mainly to discuss ways of boosting trade in October.
The ICCIMA chief said ports of Gwadar in Pakistan and Rajaee in Iran can be tapped to help develop bilateral trade.
"Most of the trade conducted between Iran and Pakistan is in the form of unofficial trade," he said.
He pointed out that a number of Iranian products find their way into the Pakistani markets third-hand after going through another country. 
Iran's private sector representative called for immediately devising ways of boosting official trade.
Shafei said it would be crucial for Pakistan to revise its customs tariffs for Iranian products.
Masood admitted that Pakistan's import tariffs for Iranian good are high, but at the same time requires Iran's cooperation to resolve the issue.
"Eliminating third-party countries and establishing free trade between Iran and Pakistan depend on reforming the banking system in Iran," she said. 

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