Economy, Domestic Economy

Pakistan Eyes Free Trade Deal

Pakistan Eyes Free Trade DealPakistan Eyes Free Trade Deal

Pakistan has decided to initiate a free trade agreement with Iran following the lifting of sanctions on Tehran.  In a meeting with the newly-appointed Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost on Tuesday, Pakistani Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said Islamabad is interested in negotiating an agreement with Iran, wrote the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.  “The draft of FTA template will be forwarded to the Iranian authorities concerned as soon as they express their willingness,” he added. The minister noted that the lifting of sanctions has provided Pakistan with a historic opportunity to raise mutual trade and investment, as the leaders of the two nations envisioned in a 2014 meeting.  “The next logical step after a preferential trade agreement is an FTA and Pakistan couldn’t find a better time to initiate negotiations on a new trade agreement,” he said. Iran and Pakistan are already signatories to a preferential trade agreement.  Khan said the banking sectors of the two countries will establish active linkages within weeks to facilitate 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 with Iran, which was nearing $1 billion, fell drastically as a result of sanctions and the unwillingness of banks to finance trade.