BY Shabbir Ahmad Shigri
Three-day Pak-Iran trade exhibition is going to be held in Lahore. This joint exhibition to be held from 24th to 26th May is of great importance. This will definitely boost trade relations between the two countries. Because trade is the backbone of the economy.
The exhibition will be a milestone in the development of trade between the two countries. The main point of this exhibition is that barter trade is given importance in it.
As Iran is subject to international economic sanctions and a major obstacle to trade relations between Pakistan and Iran is the lack of a proper banking system. Negotiations and efforts have been going on at the level of government and chambers since last year and now these efforts are going to be fruitful.
A Pakistani delegation from the Lahore Chamber of Commerce has recently visited Iran and better results are beginning to emerge. The sincere efforts of the Iranian Consul General in Lahore, Mohammad Rezanazari, are commendable.
Significant steps have been taken during his tenure in trade and cultural relations and friendship between the two countries. One of their admirable initiatives is the online visa system in which people can apply for a visa at home.
The online visa facility has created a lot of convenience for visitors and traders. Due to the initiatives of the Iranian Consulate, the Iranian Chamber visited Pakistan last year and two months ago a delegation of the Lahore Chamber also visited Iran.
And both countries are making significant efforts for barter trade. Barter trade is a trading method in which we can trade through the exchange of goods without a banking system.
This will not only prevent smuggling but will also enable regular trade which will definitely benefit the country. Small traders may not be able to benefit significantly from barter trade with Iran as large traders will do business in it. But inevitably it will directly benefit the country’s economy and prevent smuggling.
In terms of trade, many of our current needs, which are lacking in our country, we can get from our neighbor and brotherly country Iran.
But the obstacle so far is the lack of international banking system in Iran. Apart from gas, electricity and energy, our country is in dire need of many other things which our neighboring and brotherly country has in abundance but due to economic constraints we have not been able to get it so far.Pak-Iran gas deal remains anonymous while Iran has laid gas pipeline to Pakistani border for many years.
Petrol is being sold in Iran for Rs10 to 20. While prices are skyrocketing here as we are forced to buy expensive petrol from afar instead of cheap near Akron under international pressure. The enemy never wants the situation in Pakistan and Iran to be better.
But the time has come for us to strengthen our country’s economy so that we have to have the courage and determination to get out of all these pressures. How unfortunate that under the pressure of others we cannot even trade openly with our brotherly Islamic country which shares a long border with us.
Although Pakistan and Iran have deep religious, geographical, cultural, tourism, trade or border ties. These fraternal ties are deeply rooted. And the tree of Pak-Iran friendship and fraternal relations is becoming stronger and more fruitful day by day.
Especially in the current situation, the relations and mutual initiatives of the two countries are pointing towards a change in the whole region geographically.
If both Pakistan and Iran are courageous and take trade and economic matters seriously, many problems of both the countries can be eased.Mutual efforts are underway between the two countries in this regard.
Better relations could lead the two countries out of many crises. Similarly, we are proud that our friendly country Iran, which was the first to recognize Pakistan, has been offering us fraternal products like gas, electricity and petrol.But there are unseen factors that keep us from these blessings.Iran’s offers have their place, but it is time we take them seriously and take important steps.
From Iran we supply our needs including hydrocarbon gas, liquefied gas, dried and fresh dates, ceramics, dried vegetables, fresh and dried pistachios, carpets, handicrafts, steel, fresh juices, milk and cream, chocolates and sweets. While Iran can get its necessities from Pakistan besides rice, fresh and dried guava, readymade garments, polymer, textile fabrics, medical equipment, meat and mango and countless other items.
At present the border terminals, rail transport, roads and markets between the two countries have a good opportunity and environment to help promote bilateral economic cooperation.
Trade has also been started from Iran to Pakistan and then from Turkey by train which can be extended to Europe.
Pakistani President Arif Alawi also met with his Iranian counterpart Ayatollah Seyyed Ibrahim Raeisi on the sidelines of the ECO Summit in Turkmenistan to promote trade and economic ties between the two countries through a barter system.
He called for holding joint meetings.Pakistani President Arif Alawi has called for serious use of the local currency (national currency) for trade between Iran and Pakistan. In this regard, the President of Pakistan has directed the Governor of the Central Bank of Pakistan as well as the Chairman of the National Revenue Organization (FBR) to make all necessary arrangements for bilateral trade with Iran through local currency.
The establishment of joint border markets seems to be fulfilling the dream of five billion dollars annually between Iran and Pakistan. The establishment of these border markets will not only increase trade but also prevent illegal smuggling. We need to take serious steps to solve the problems of our country in a serious way.
Full ties should be established in the fields of cultural education, which can be a major cause of change not only for the beloved country of Pakistan but also for the entire region. For this, it is necessary to go beyond mere intentions and take practical steps.