Addressing an LCCI meeting with Iran's Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Reza Haghighian and Consul General in Lahore Hussain Bani Asadi, the LCCI president called for measures to curb the menace of smuggling that is fast spreading its tentacles and coming in the way of expansion of two-way trade.
He said that bilateral trade from the last some years is constantly maintaining the level of over one billion dollars. Like from 2008 to 2010, it stood around US$ 1.16 billion, US$ 1.21 billion and US$ 1.07 billion respectively.
There exists a lot of potential to take it to over US$ 10 billion mark if smuggling is curtailed and direct trade is started instead of trading via third destination.
The LCCI President said that though traditionally, the balance of trade favors Iran but currently this gap is increasing from the last couple of years.
"Trade trends confirm that our imports from Iran are sure to go over one billion dollars. In contrast to that our exports to Iran are constantly loosing the momentum. It stood around US$ 426 million in 2008 which dropped to US$ 252 million in 2009 and went further down to US$ 182 million in 2010," he added.
"We would like to have some greater share in bilateral trade which may guarantee some economic benefits to Pakistan as well. By having some access to trade inquiries, we can improve the scenario."
Irfan Sheikh said that facilitating bilateral trade in local currencies can be instrumental in seriously improving two way trade. China and Russia have already started trade in their local currencies. Barter trade should also be actively facilitated since it can be highly efficient mode of buying and selling.
"It is high time that we also put in place such mechanisms."
The LCCI President said that it is good to note that some joint ventures are underway between Iran and Pakistan, for instance exporting meat to Iran.
"Likewise Pakistan's dairy sector can also be another sector to be jointly ventured by Pakistani and Iranian companies," he added.
He said that once the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project is accomplished, the two way trade relations between two countries will get further strong and deep.
"The proposal to import electricity from Iran is also under consideration which has great potential to pave the way for greater two-way trade," he concluded.