Consul General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Karachi Hassan Nourian emphasised enhancing formal bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iran on Tuesday during the Iranian diplomat’s visit to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). FPCCI President Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo extended his heartiest welcome to Iranian CG Hassan Nourian, and third Consul for Economic Affairs Mahdi Amir Jafari, at Federation House, Karachi. Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo said FPCCI is very keen to enhance bilateral trade between the two countries and for that matter removal of bottlenecks is warranted, e.g. lack of banking and financial channels, absence of barter-trade agreements or mechanisms at the governmental level, and unfair geopolitical pressures. FPCCI chief explained that the central/state banks of the two countries and apex chambers of commerce and industry need to come closer and we can immediately start the consultative processes at various levels through webinars. He also offered FPCCI assistance and its platform for making efficient and tangible linkages. Primarily, the two central banks need to devise a mechanism for smooth and swift payment systems for the bilateral trade as the starting point in the right direction, as that will give confidence to traders on both sides. Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo also requested the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EGFI) to extend their funding guarantees to more traders with enhanced limits and play a role of a catalyst. He added that he is worried about the Covid situation in Iran and hoped that the Iranian people will soon overcome the menace on the back of their ever-persistent resilience and high hygiene standards. Hassan Nourian said formal trade between the two countries stands only at $1b and it is too low; given the fact that the combined population of Pakistan and Iran is 300 million. He added that there might be informal trade along the lines, but the two countries must work in tandem to progressively increase the bilateral trade on a sustainable basis. Hassan Nourian emphasised that the quality of Iranian products is world-class and Iranian industry buys their plants mostly from the best manufacturers. He also appreciated the willingness of the Pakistani embassy in Iran for supporting the enhancement of bilateral trade. CG Hassan Nourian pointed out that there is still a huge untapped potential for Pakistani fruits in Iran; particularly, various varieties of mango. He also emphasised that the petrochemical industry is very advanced in Iran technologically and can greatly help Pakistan with its foreign exchange strains. FPCCI vice president Hanif Lakhany pointed out that tariffs are playing out as a major hindrance; as the tariffs are very high on both sides; and, that results in rendering bilateral trade uncompetitive. FPCCI Vice President Nasir Khan said during a recent meeting with SBP Governor, FPCCI raised the issue of lack of banking channels with Iran and the SBP has asked to discuss the matter further in the light of currently in place bilateral mechanisms between Iran and other countries, like China, India, Turkey, etc.