Pakistan and Iran set to finalise Free Trade Agreement soon: PM

PAK-IRAN BORDER: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said that Pakistan and Iran had decided to finalise the Free Trade Agreement soon to exploit the immense potential in trade and investment.
The bilateral ties and cooperation were discussed in a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after the two leaders inaugurated the Mand-Pishin border market.
Following the “very productive and positive” meeting, the prime minister told a gathering of local elders that the two sides had decided to move forward in the areas of trade, investment, information technology, agriculture and other sectors.
The two leaderships also decided to exploit the potential for cooperation in the power transmission.
He told the gathering that on his suggestion, the Iranian president also assured to move forward for enhancing cooperation in the solar energy sector.
The prime minister said that during the meeting, he also put forward the suggestions regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and that the two sided would take measures for implementation of the decisions taken in the meeting.
Regarding the inauguration of Mand-Pishin border market, the prime minister said the facility would enhance trade activity in the surrounding areas and would get an uplift as trade centers would be constructed there.
Prime Minister Shehbaz also invited the Iranian president to visit Pakistan which he accepted.
Coming to the project of 100 megawatt Gabd-Bolan transmission line, the prime minister said the project faced immense delay in the past but the incumbent government ensured its completion in the record time. Iranian President Raisi also took keen interest in the project, he added.
He said the matter related to the power tariff has also been settled amicably with Iranian government, he added.
“This is a great day for Pakistan-Iran friendship and will prove a milestone for development of the two countries,” the prime minister remarked.
This is one of the six border markets which will be constructed along the Pak-Iran common border.
The Mand-Pishin border sustenance marketplace will provide a thriving platform for increasing cross-border trade, fostering economic growth, and opening up new avenues of opportunity for local businesses.
The two leaders also planted a sapling in the premises of the border market as a gesture to stride forward in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Power Minister Khurram Dastagir, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and senior officials of Pakistan and Iran were present.
The prime minister and the Iranian president also inaugurated the Polan-Gabd electricity transmission line at the Mand-Pishin border crossing point. The line will play a pivotal role in meeting the energy needs of the region, including households and businesses, by bringing-in an additional 100 MW of electricity from Iran.
The Foreign Office in a statement said, “The joint inauguration is a manifestation of the strong commitment of Pakistan and Iran to uplift the welfare of residents of the neighboring provinces of Balochistan and Sistan-o-Baluchestan, respectively.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that Pakistan-Iran border markets would not only ameliorate the socioeconomic conditions of the border regions but also foster new opportunities for local businesses.
The prime minister, in an interview with Iran’s official news agency IRNA published on Thursday, stressed the importance of enhanced cooperation with Iran saying that the energy projects and border markets were emblematic of the vitality of Pakistan-Iran friendship.
The prime minister’s interview came as he, along with Iran’s President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi jointly inaugurated the Mand-Pishin border sustenance market on Thursday aimed at boosting the bilateral trade. This is one of the six border markets which will be constructed along the Pak-Iran common border.
The prime minister said Pakistan and Iran were brotherly countries bound by deep-rooted religious, cultural, and linguistic ties.
“Both our governments are collaborating closely for the betterment and socio-economic uplift of our peoples,” he said.
He said the Mand-Pishin border marketplace and the Polan-Gabd electricity project were tangible manifestations of this resolve. They would also serve as a stepping stone for greater cooperation between our two countries, especially in the economic domain, he added.
In order to enhance the bilateral trade, the prime minister called for intensifying the efforts and applying collective energies and resources, as there existed tremendous scope and mutual desire for the actualization of the trade potential.
He said both Pakistan and Iran were deeply committed to achieving an annual trade volume of $5 billion. In this regard, the operationalization of the barter trade mechanism is a significant step, he remarked.
Prime Minister Shehbaz viewed that border markets would enhance trade and contribute to the development of the two nations. Last year, the two sides made substantive progress during the 21st session of the Joint Economic Commission held in Islamabad in August, and called for keeping the momentum.
Coming to the regional situation, the prime minister congratulated the governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia on the resumption of diplomatic ties.
“This milestone achievement is a testament to the vision and foresight of the astute leadership of Iran and Saudi Arabia and the valuable role played by China…We are confident that this important development would serve as a harbinger for regional peace and prosperity,” he said.
The prime minister believed that the Polan-Gwadar electricity project was emblematic of the vitality of Pakistan-Iran friendship and a testimony of the strength of mutual cooperation. He said completion of the project in record time manifested the potential of bilateral cooperation.-APP