Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) has demanded for early implementation of Barter Trade Mechanism signed between Pakistan and Iran during the 9th Joint Trade Committee meeting held in Tehran to jack up bilateral trade to $5b annually. “The need for building more trade gateways for the business communities and people”, said a press release issued here by PBF on Sunday. For Mashkeel, Panjgur and Bilangur in Kech district, it was suggested to set up industrial zones at Mirjawa and Ramdan border on the Iranian side while Taftan and Kaldan border on the Pakistani side. PBF President, Mian Usman Zulfiqar asked the concerned departments, particularly the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) that instead of creating obstacles, they should start working on the implementation of the barter trade through approved crossing points without any further delay. He also asked Iran to take benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. In order to meet the objective of barter trade mechanism, both parties must finalize an international mechanism to remove difficulties in barter trade, he expressed. He said that barter trade was in fact a right decision, which could boost Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves through an escalation in exports. Currently due to a lack of banking channels with Iran, some issues were existing in trading with Tehran. The barter trade issue with Iran has now been resolved, which is a welcome step for both Muslim neighbouring nations, he added. He said the barter trade could be done via land route through legal customs notified border crossing points without any monetary transaction under the barter trade arrangement. According to the agreement, Iranian importers will pay Pakistani exporters in lieu of goods and services exported by them in Pak Rupees and the same mechanism will apply on the Iranian side. While on imports and exports of goods by either side, the party will submit documentary evidence such as Good Declaration to the focal persons in Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and counterpart Chambers like Zahidan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) President also says Pakistan can import liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Iran in exchange for rice under a barter arrangement endorsed by the two countries. “We will export rice to Iran and import LPG from there, as it is purely a barter deal.” It is pertinent to mention that Iran faces sanctions imposed by the United States, making it difficult for global and regional countries to broaden and deepen their trade ties with the administration in Tehran. He also noted the country’s exports had increased by 30 per cent, adding that more growth could still be achieved by adopting product and geographical diversification. However, PBF Vice President Ahmad Jawad said that efforts should also be initiated to sign a free trade agreement between Iran and Pakistan, as both countries wanted to boost bilateral trade and economic relations to strengthen the regional economy. The businessmen of Pakistan wanted to further strengthen bilateral trade between the two countries by signing a free trade agreement, installation of an effective banking channel, establishment of markets at border region, elimination of illegal trade, exchange of business delegation and organising joint trade exhibitions. Jawad invited the Iranian businessmen to invest in Pakistan in hydel power generation, marble, mining, matchboxes, furniture, honey, gems and other sectors, saying that promotion of regional trade was the need of the hour. “There’s huge potential to further boost trade between Pakistan and Iran, which currently stands at $359m”, he said.