The 21st Iran-Pakistan Joint Economic Committee meeting kicked off in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, on Wednesday. (Photo credit: IRNA).
While attending the 21st Session of Pak-Iran Joint Economic Commission (JEC) in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Minister for Commerce Naveed Qamar announced on 18 August that the neighboring countries will finalize a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) within the next six months.
The FTA is expected to boost trade by nearly $4 billion per year.
So far, Iran and Pakistan are currently trading under a preferential trade agreement that aims to reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the countries.
The Iranian Minister for Roads and Urban Development, Rostam Ghasemi, attended the JEC with a delegation of 57 Iranian government officials and representatives of different business sectors.
Iran and Pakistan’s decision to hold the JEC meeting after a five-year break demonstrated their shared “determination to strengthen economic ties,” according to the minister.
“Since its inception in 1984, we are now holding the 21st Session of the JEC, which is a clear indication of the endeavors of both the countries to sustain and foster our economic relations,” Naveed Qamar stated.
So far, four agreements have been signed to improve trade relations. The first one was related to media cooperation, the second on maritime cooperation, the third one on tourism, and the last one was signed by the National Museums of both countries for their promotion and mutual cooperation.
However, despite already having a set of agreements that benefits both countries, the FTA is expected to boost transactions.
Analysts have been calling for an upgrade in Iran-Pakistan relations as an essential requirement to improve the security and development in the region.
Over the past year, Iran has bolstered cooperation with regional nations in order to overcome western sanctions. This is the basis of President Ebrahim Raisi’s foreign policy, which shuns previous “look west” policies that have “caused imbalance in the country.”
“We must pay close attention to all countries, particularly our neighbors,” Raisi said during a speech commemorating the 43rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in February.