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High level Iranian delegation to visit Islamabad to hold 4th round of talks on FTA

Islamabad: The 4th round of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Iran would be held in April when Iranian high level delegation will be visiting Islamabad.Sources told that a high level Iranian delegation will visit Islamabad to hold talks aimed at making advancement on FTA. ‘This time we are hoping that talks on FTA would be fruitful”, they said. Notwithstanding the fact the both countries have signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) but there was need to take practical measures to promote trade ties.

They said that although the MoU are signed but not implemented and now there was need to implement MoUs in letter and spirit. There are some hurdles from Iranian side as non-tariff barriers are high, sources said, adding there was need to abolish non-tariff barriers and road tax to encourage Pakistani businessmen. They said provision of maximum relief to our businessmen and traders was amongst top priority of the government of Pakistan.

Sources said that if Iran was agreed to open its branch of Mili bank in Karachi then it will help overcome many issues. Iranian banking channel was functioning in India since long while Indian Bank Union of Calcutta continued performing functioning during sanctions. Moreover one Turkish, two UAE and one Chinese bank continued working in Iran during bans imposed by United Nations. These banks have been working for payment to oil and other sectors while U.S has turned blind towards these banks.

They said Pakistani bank sector was reluctant to open branches in Iran due to fear of fines or unseen international pressure. During the recent talks between two countries, both countries failed to resolved banking channel issues, they disclosed.

Talking about the recent Iranian trade delegation’s visit, they said two drafts were prepared during Iranian trade delegation’s visit to Islamabad while accords were signed between PSQC and Iran’s ISRIC. ‘We acceded the Iranian standard and demanded same in return”, they said.

Sources told there was also disparity in trade volume between the two countries as Pakistani stance was that trade volume is $ 318 million while Iran says it was $ one billion. Smuggling or third party could be reason of this disparity. Residents of Quetta and Chamman sell out their luggage and receive money from Iran and this record was not available owing to lack of banking channel.

Head of IPO Iran Mir Hadi Saeedi also expressed desire of opening a branch of Mili bank of Iran in Karachi but State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has not allowed it, they told. ‘We are optimistic that lot of things would be finalized in the upcoming meeting to be held in April between the both countries and there would be breakthrough in FTA”, sources said.

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