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Pakistan, Iran to enhance economic cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran agreed to enhance bilateral economic cooperation in various sectors including energy, railways, roads and trade besides realising the need for establishing Joint Shipping Company to boost maritime cooperation and mutual trade. The issues related to enhancing trade were discussed during a meeting between Iranian Ambassador Mashallah Shakiri and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, M. Salman Faruqui here.

Speaking on the occasion, the Iranian Ambassador said that his country was ready to export electricity to Pakistan, adding that Iran was already working on Sahara hydel power project on the river Chenab and had raised its capacity from initially proposed 65 Mega Watts to 130 Mega Watts through IPP. The Ambassador said that the present volume of trade between the two countries showed that the bilateral trade potential was untapped, adding that the volume of trade between Iran and other regional countries is significantly higher than that of Iran and Pakistan.

He pointed out that the main problem was lack of physical as well as institutional connectivity between the two countries and proposed to establish Pak-Iran Joint Shipping Company that would enhance connectivity leading to increase in bilateral trade. He also showed his country’s interest in enhancing the cooperation in banking sector by opening up branches of banks in each other’s countries on reciprocal basis.

Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Faruqui told the ambassador that Pakistan was interested in importing electricity from Iran as Pakistan was currently facing power shortage. He suggested bilateral negotiations to work out the modalities related to pricing and transmission and appreciated the proposal to establish a Joint Shipping Company to boost maritime cooperation and mutual trade.

He promised to examine the proposal and said that Pakistan National Shipping Company would be asked to look into this matter. Faruqui also underlined the importance of modern railroad between Quetta and Taftan. For this purpose, he said, funds could be raised together withIran and by using the forum of Economic Cooperation Organization or Islamic Bank.

Both the sides agreed to increase cooperation in health services and pharmaceutical sector as well. Faruqui informed the Ambassador that Planning Commission of Pakistan had good mutual relationships with its Indian and Chinese counterparts and it wanted the same level of institutional interaction with its Iranian counterpart.

The Ambassador appreciated this proposal and assured that Iran would welcome this institutional linkage that would further enhance business to business contacts for regional development. Secretary Planning Division, Suhail Safdar, Member Energy, Pervez Butt, and Member Infrastructure, Akram Malik were also present on the occasion.-APP

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Nabeel Malik

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