Islamabad, June 29, IRNA – Pakistani deputy commerce minister says representatives of Pakistan banks have been asked by the ministry to find a viable solution to resume banking channels and promote trade with Iran within a month.
In an exclusive interview with IRNA, Robina Ather said commerce minister Khurram Dastgir Khan issued the directives yesterday while chairing a meeting with State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and private banks for exploring the banking channels available for trade with post-sanction Iran.
She added Pakistan is searching for ways and means to initiate trade with Iran in a big way despite that several impediments persist after the lifting of sanctions from Iran.
The official who was part of the meeting went on to say despite lifting of international sanctions from Iran, private banks are reluctant to establish direct banking channels with Iran.
“The absence of banking links because of the refusal of international banks to support transactions with Iran proved to be the prime reason for Pakistan’s trade not to get the much-expected boost from trade with Iran,” she noted.
Robina Ather said representatives of Pakistani private banks visited Iran a few months ago and report a great enthusiasm in Iran regarding trade with Pakistan while SBP and Central Bank of Iran signed a Letter of Intent on the occasion of visit of Iranian President to Pakistan for enhancing mutual cooperation and establishing direct bnking links.
She added Pakistani traders sense great opportunities of export right next door with minimal transportation cost especially that of Basmati rice which used to fetch millions of dollars from the pre-sanction Iran. “Pak-Iran trade which was over one billion dollars now stands at US $ 270 million because of the international sanctions,” said the official.
Expressing her views she said ministry of commerce is extensively engaged with the ministry of trade and industry and ministry of agriculture of Iran to operationalize the Preferential Trade Agreement and enhance trade facilitation at the border.
Robina Ather said Pakistani commerce minister has recently paid a visit to Pak-Iran border at Taftan and inspected the facilities available for smooth movement of vehicles trading across the border and promised to upgrade the infrastructure.
She added as per the 5-Year Economic Engagement Plan agreed between Pakistan and Iran, the ministry of commerce of Pakistan forwarded the draft FTA framework agreement to Iran this month and the response of Iran is awaited.