Abdul Razak Dawood in an interview with IRNA hoped that both the states can find a genuine way forward to do more business, IRNA reported.
“We are very excited that Iranian delegation led by Industry, Mining and Trade Minister Reza Rahmani has come to Pakistan because the last Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting was held in 2015 so there is a very very long gap,” he said.
Abdul Razak Dawood is a renowned industrialist who had also served as the Commerce minister of Pakistan from 1999 to 2002. He accompanied Prime Minister Imran Khan during Iran visit where he had useful meeting with Iranian leaders.
Dawood expressing his views said when he visited Iran he had very good and constructive discussion with his Iranian counterpart and the 8th JTC that is going to be held in Islamabad is the result of that visit. I invited your minister because until and unless we communicate and understand each others’ position how can we improve the trade,” said the official.
He went on to say that mere fact is that our trade has gone down and it is not a good sign and both the trade from your side and our side is approximately US $ 400 million.
“For two large countries, the two countries who are neighbors to have a trade of only this much is too little, I want to increase trade with Iran, so I am very much looking forward to it,” he said.
The advisor said: when I was in Tehran I put all the issues on the table and so did your commerce minister, which is very nice, we must understand where we are coming from and so I hope that the meetings with Iranians will be very constructive and we can find a genuine way forward to do more business.
“Are there problems in Iran Pakistan trade, answer is yes, they are from both sides, you have got grievances from our side we have issues on your side but they do not bother me because I think most of the problems are solvable, we can resolve them,” Abdul Razak Dawood viewed.
Giving details of the main issues between Iran and Pakistan trade ties, he said that one of the main issues is that we have a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and that agreement has not really worked well, you have put high tariffs on our textiles, surgical goods and sports goods.
“If the PTA has not worked it doesn’t matter I am willing to go at a lower stage than that, let’s have an early harvest, which means that both countries start exporting some items to each other, once that keeps going we can look to the PTA and then Free Trade Agreement,” he said.
He said that when a Pakistani truck goes to Iran the traders have to pay taxes like road tax, attestation fees, which obviously affects free flow of goods.
Abdul Razak Dawood added Iranians want more border points and we are going to look at them, and we would also discuss with them as to where and how quickly open them.
He said there is an issue of smuggling on both sides, Iranian oil comes into Pakistan, Iranian fruits come into Pakistan and it hurts our industry. “Now we’ve got to find ways and means to start more business and curtail the smuggling,” he said.
The advisor recalled when he was in Tehran his Iranian counterpart mentioned that Iran has lot of Liquefied Petroleum Gas to sell to Pakistan, now quite honestly its good because we sincerely like to import more LPG from Iran.
He noted our demand for LPG is going up which we can buy from Iran, we would be very happy to do that.
“If this LPG can move in a long term basis then we would restructure our trading to accommodate more business,” Dawood said.
The official noted that as a principle we want to do barter trade with Iran, but the question comes how, but we can find a proper mechanism of barter trade.
“We should select few products from your side, few from our side and let’s get started, I am not worried how much large and small it is, I want to start it, even if it is US $ 50 million, or US $ 100 million, let’s start then slowly we can build it on,” he said.
The advisor to a question said right now there are no chances of resumption of banking ties between Iran and Pakistan, we have spoken to the Pakistani banks they are not interested, but we are looking at it.
“Your minister said that one of the Iranian banks wants to come and gets registered in Pakistan, he mentioned the name of an agricultural bank, so we will discuss how we can help to get your bank to be registered in Pakistan, in principle I have no problem with that” he said.
He added that main problem in resumption of banking channel is the sanctions of the US and our banks are concerned that if they do business with Iran they might have problem in business with America.
“Over all what I would like to do is to put all the issues before Iranian minister and let’s see how much of them we can solve them immediately,” Abdul Razak Dawood said.
The official noted for two neighboring countries not to trade is not good we must do business with Iran, I want to do business with Iran, it is good for Pakistan, it is good for Iran. He said in many areas economies of Iran and Pakistan complement each other.
He said cooperation between Gwadar and Chabahar ports is another opportunity which we are looking forward. The maximum connectivity between our people the better it is both for us.
The advisor praised the progress of Iran despite sanctions in various sectors. “I am highly impressed that despite sanctions your industry and economy is developing,” he said. “It gives me great pleasure,” he said.