PESHAWAR: Hamid Reza Ghomi, the Iranian Consul General in Peshawar, said that talks to sign a free trade agreement between Iran and Pakistan have begun on Wednesday.

He told businesspeople at the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry that Iran wanted to improve regional economic ties by boosting bilateral trade and Pakistan’s economic relations.

According to the Iranian diplomat, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the Iranian consulate aided Pakistani business people by issuing visas on time. He praised Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran for his efforts, saying he was instrumental in the trade between them.

He went on to say that the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan will soon visit Peshawar to speak with businesspeople and learn about their problems.

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The envoy urged Peshawar businesspeople to strengthen relations with the Mashhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry to benefit from each other’s experience and increase trade between them. Hamid Reza Ghomi is asking SCCI to strengthen relations with the Mashhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

SCCI senior vice president Engineer Manzoor Elahi, Iranian Second Consul Seyed Ebrahim Dehnadi, and other Iranian Consulate officials in Peshawar also attended the meeting. Earlier, business leaders led by Sherbaz Bilour, president of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, met with the envoy to address a variety of issues aimed at increasing the bilateral trade rate.

Both sides agreed to sign a free trade agreement (FTA), install an effective banking channel, develop markets at the border, eliminate illicit trade, exchange business delegations, and organise joint trade exhibitions to boost bilateral trade between the two countries further.

It was also decided that after Eidul Fitr, a webinar between SCCI and Mashhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be held to exchange views.

Sherbaz Bilour welcomed Iranian investors to invest in hydel power production, marble, mining, match, furniture, honey, diamonds, and other Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sectors. He said that regional trade promotion was urgently needed.

Mr Bilour said, “There is huge potential to boost further trade between Pakistan and Iran, which is currently valued at $359 million.” He urged Islamabad and Tehran to take serious steps to eliminate trade barriers between the two countries.

Iran should benefit from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, he said. He believes that youth will play a critical role in bolstering the two Islamic countries’ brotherly ties.

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