By Sara Rajabova
Iran and Pakistan are committed to enhance the economic and trade relations between the two countries.
A senior Iranian trade official said Iran and Pakistan enjoy abundant potential for increasing the volume of their trade transactions, and called for the promotion of economic ties between Tehran and Islamabad.
Deputy Head of the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPOI) for Marketing Affairs, Reza Tofiqi Zavareh, said that Chabahar free trade zone in south-eastern Iran -- given its strategic and geo-political significance -- can have a great influence on the expansion of trade between Iran and regional countries, Press TV reported.
Chabahar free trade-industrial zone was established in 1992 along with the two other free trade zones -- Qeshm and Kish Island-- to use global expertise (mostly from South East Asia) as a tool for the development of the country, accelerating the accomplishment of infrastructure, creation of employment, and representation in global markets.
The Chabahar free trade-industrial zone achieved its importance mainly from its geographical location as the shortest and the most secure route connecting central Asian states and Afghanistan to warm waters and its proximity to one of the largest oil, gas and mineral resources of the world and as the only ocean port of the country.
Zavareh also pointed to the recent negotiations between Iranian and Pakistani business officials, and noted that Sistan-Baluchestan province has a major role in the development of trade exchanges between the two countries.
Iran and Pakistan exchange business delegations on a regular basis and the two neighbouring countries are keen to further develop trade ties.
On March 11, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari officially inaugurated the final construction phase of the multi-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.
The IP gas pipeline is projected to come on stream in 2014. The pipeline, projected to cost $1.2-1.5 billion, will enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters per day of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan.
Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its soil.
The 2,700-kilometer long pipeline is to supply gas for Pakistan and India, which are suffering from a lack of energy sources.
The Iranian and Pakistani presidents also underlined the need for tapping into all of the existing capacities between Iran and Pakistan to promote the progress and welfare of the two countries.
The current trade volume between Iran and Pakistan stands at $1 billion. Pakistani officials have called for an immediate increase of the trade volume between the two countries.
Iranian Consul General in Peshawar Hassan Darvishvand said in February that trade volume between Iran and Pakistan can be boosted to $15 billion by bilateral engagement.
In 1999, Iran and Pakistan signed Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. At present, both countries are cooperating and forming alliance in a number of areas including fighting drug trade along their shared border as well as defeating Afghan-supported tribal insurgency along their border. They are both members of the Developing 8 Countries group as well as the Economic Cooperation Organization; and are also both observers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.