Iran wants to join CPEC, says consul general

Iran wants to join CPEC, says consul general

LAHORE: Consul General of Iran Mohammad Hossein Bani Assadi said on Tuesday that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a great economic development and his country wanted to be part of it.

While heading a three-member delegation of an Iranian construction group, he expressed these views at a meeting with business community here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

LCCI President Abdul Basit, Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa and Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan also spoke on the occasion.

Delegation members Ahmed Subhani, Maqsood Javed, former LCCI president Syed Mohsin Raza Bukhari, former SVP Mian Nauman Kabir and EC members were also present.

The Iranian envoy said that the first branch of Iranian bank would be opened in Karachi very soon as the State Bank of Pakistan and Central Bank of Iran had finalised all modalities in this regard.

Congratulating the LCCI new body, he said that Lahore Chamber was a think tank that was doing a lot to promote regional trade asserting that Iran and Pakistan should take measures to enhance mutual trade volume as both the countries had potential for billion-dollar trade.

Assadi said that Iran was ready to fulfil growing energy needs of Pakistan and Iran Pakistan Gas Pipeline project could be completed in a short span of time.

"This project must be completed as energy was necessary for all trade and economic activities," he added.

LCCI President Abdul Basit said that collaboration between Pakistani and Iranian business community in the ongoing CPEC projects could go a long way.

He welcomed the statement of Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoust saying that Iran was interested in joining CPEC and invest in Pakistan's infrastructure and energy sectors.

Basit said that many projects under CPEC were underway and there were many to emerge with the passage of time. "If Iran instantly collaborated with Pakistan then there were greater chances that they would obtain reasonable share."

He hoped that more Iranian delegations would visit Pakistan in near future.

The LCCI president expressed his gratitude to Iranian consul general for extending best cooperation to the LCCI delegation, which visited Iran in March, this year.

"Pakistan and Iran were two brotherly Islamic countries therefore maximum efforts were needed to strengthen their relations in all fields," he said. "Both sides also needed to conduct market research to further strengthen the trade ties."

Priority should be given to each other for import of goods rather than buying from distant countries, he added.

 "Collaboration in SMEs and mega projects like onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration activities, hydel and coal-based energy projects, paper and board, sugar, cement, chemicals, transport and communication, construction of roads in Pakistan, scientific and educational cooperation, handicrafts, artificial jewellery, carpets, fancy furniture etc," said Abdul Basit.

LCCI Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa and Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan said Pakistan was basically an agricultural country bestowed with variety of seasons and agro-based products.

"But due to lack of post-harvest technologies, a lot of agriculture produce was wasted, hence technology from Iran could help Pakistan's agro-based food processing and dairy industry to improve," they said.

"Pakistan was one of the leading countries and known around the globe for its textile potential and products that still needed to be properly introduced in Iranian business houses. Such efforts could also prove vital to equalize mutual trade balance."