Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline not abandoned: Minister

Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Friday said that Pakistan has not abandoned the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and the country will pursue it once international sanctions are removed that are hindering the plan.

“A gas pipeline that is going to be laid from Gwadar to Nawabshah can be extended by 11 kilometres to Iran,” he said this while talking to media at the Pearl Continental hotel here.

Pakistan and China are expected to sign a $3-billion gas pipeline deal during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping next month.

The minister was speaking at a ceremony organised to share details of the Pakistan-United States Business Opportunity Conference that will take place from March 10-12 in Islamabad. This will be the third such conference on trade relations between the two countries – the previous two were held in London and Dubai, respectively.

Khan said that the conference will bring over 150 leading US businesspersons to Islamabad, who will discuss possible opportunities to enhance bilateral trade.

US businesses representing agriculture, textiles and apparel, footwear, energy, surgical instruments, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and IT will attend the event.

“Promoting international trade and investment is the pivot around which Pakistan seeks to devise its economic development and poverty reduction strategies. This is the centerpiece of the government’s vision to fight violent extremism through economic and political empowerment of the people of Pakistan,” the minister added.

Khan said that Pakistan attaches huge importance to its trade relations with the US for it is one of the leading trading partners of the country. Moreover, the key point is that the trade balance is heavily in favour of Pakistan.

“Both the governments acknowledge the fact that closer economic ties and expanded trade and investment opportunities would lend greater strength and sustainability to this strategic relationship,” he added.

Additional Secretary Commerce Robina Athar, US Ambassador Richard Olson and American Business Council (ABC) President Arshad Saeed Husain were present on the occasion.

The ABC president said that ABC is extremely pleased to partner with the Ministry of Commerce and the US Department of State for the third edition of the upcoming Business Opportunities Conference.

“ABC members represent American investment in Pakistan and they are committed to making this conference a success by showcasing their success stories and sharing their experiences with potential trade partners and investors,” added Husain.

The US is the largest export destination for Pakistan as 15-20% of total exports go to the US. During 2013, Pakistan’s exports to the US were $3.7 billion while its imports were $1.71 billion.

The US remains an important source of foreign direct investment (FDI) as $1.3 billion of FDI has come from Washington in the last seven years.

By The Express Tribune