ISLAMABAD

The 19th meeting of the Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Commission commenced here on Monday wherein it is expected that four memorandum of understandings (MoUs) will be signed between the two countries during the current JEC meeting. Federal Minister for Finance Senator Ishaq Dar and the Iranian Minister for Economic Affairs & Finance, Dr. Ali Taieb Nia were addressing the inaugural session. Discussion will also be held on pending MoUs and it is expected that out of the 12 MoUs under consideration four will be signed between the two countries during the current JEC, which would conclude today (Tuesday).

The JEC is considering the issue of banking problems with Iran due to sanctions imposed by US and UN etc. Discussion will be held on Iran Pakistan gas pipeline project (to expedite its implementation), up gradation of Quetta-Taftan railway track and improvement of Noshki-Dalbandin section of N-40 Highway.

On the import of energy from Iran, both sides will discuss the import of 74MW power from Iran for Makran Division, Balochistan; Import of 100 MW from Iran to Gwadar and import of 1000MW of electricity from Iran for Balochistan and the national grid. Before the formal inauguration of the session, both Ministers had a meeting along with their respective delegations and resolved to take the economic relations a step further particularly focusing on trade promotion.

In his formal inaugural speech, the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said, "the top leadership of both the countries is serious in taking relationship to a new level; we have endeavoured to materialise what our leadership feels. We will not only try to expand the existing trade, economic and bilateral ties in other areas but also make efforts to stabilise them."Regarding the sanctions against the brotherly Islamic country,

Finance Minister Dar said we support Iran on the International fora and argue with the world community to open trade with Iran on humanitarian goods. "At least export of food items to the friendly country should be on till the sanctions are relaxed", the Minister added.

The Iranian Minister for Finance reciprocated the feelings and said that he was pleased to be in Pakistan to lead his side at the 19th JEC. He once again reiterated expansion in volume of trade between the countries in his address. He also expressed resolve to cooperate with Pakistan in the areas of energy import, transport and communication, mining, agriculture, health and banking sector development, through a comprehensive framework agreement.

During the technical session that started soon after adoption of agenda in the presence of both the Ministers, is set to take up the main items for discussion including review of the bilateral trade and proposals for its enhancement, review of tariff and non-tariff barriers hampering bilateral trade, opening of bank branches, revitalisation of joint business council, visa facilitation for businessmen of Pakistan and lifting of ban on the import of fruits from Pakistan.