ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce has taken up with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) the problems faced by the exporters from Balochistan while trading with Iran.
Balochistan is ideally situated for trade with Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf countries and is generously bestowed with natural resources, livestock, minerals, fishery as well as huge deposits of strategic and critical minerals like coal, natural gas, oil, iron, gold and precious stones- all these make Balochistan a great economic powerhouse.
“Due to international sanctions on Iran, Pakistani exporters from Balochistan are facing numerous problems while trading with Iran through border trade,” a well placed official source at MoC told this scribe here on Wednesday adding that MoC was facilitating the farmers of Balochistan to promote exports by addressing their problems in bringing their export earnings proceeds from Iran.
“MoC has taken up the issue of traders from Balochistan with the State Bank of Pakistan through a letter from Secretary Commerce to Governor State Bank of Pakistan and reply in the matter is likely to be received soon,” the source added. The source said that exporters from Balochistan were of the view that they should be exempted from the requirement of realization of their export proceeds in US dollars as well as they should also be allowed by State Bank of Pakistan to accept other commodities from Iran in lieu of their exported goods.
“On MoC’s recommendations, the government is initiating process for the establishment of a land port authority in the country, whose phase II will include Taftan Land port with Iran,” the source said, adding that Provincial Government of Balochistan was focusing on the improvement of required Infrastructure Development i.e Farm to Market Access which was a provincial subject.
Moreover, the source said that in order to enhance trade from Balochistan, Gul train Project was also under consideration, Gul train would be an international train freight service between Islamabad and Istanbul via Tehran, Iran.
“To benefit the producers and growers from Balochitan the MoC has also begun negotiations on a new trilateral Transit & Trade Agreement between Pakistan-Afghanistan and Tajikistan on the basis of APTTA,” source said, adding that the APTTA would largely benefit people from Balochistan in the shape of enhanced volume of exports as well increased business and trade activities in their areas.
The source said that federal government considered widening and improvement of the Quetta-Taftan highway to facilitate trade with Iran. Therefore, growers, producers and exporters from Balochistan would be benefited immediately from China trade corridor that would link Gawadar with rest of the country as well as Taftan. Furthermore, the source said that the MoC had taken several initiatives under Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2012-15 to help the farmers to increase their exports to Iran
“Farmers growing dates & olives in Balochistan were provided subsidy on cost of plants and machinery for dates and olives processing up to 50% and mark-up subsidy at the rate of 50% of the prevailing mark-up rate was also provided to farmers setting up meat processing plants,” the source added.
It is pertinent to note here that main agricultural products include wheat, barley, hay and forage crops, water melon, melon, onions, Garlic , oilseeds, leafy vegetables, dates, banana , lemon tart, Orange, Mango, Papaya, Sapodilla, Guava, Grape, figs, Pistachios, etc. The province ranks first in the Iran with regard to the amount of tropical and semi- tropical products and citrus stones to iron, copper and uranium and energy sources as gas, oil and coal requires a careful development strategy. Chromite, copper, manganese, lead and zinc, tin, tungsten deposits of the Non-such as talc, magnesite, white flowers and ornamental stone, especially granite and natural gas, oil, iron, copper and uranium are the main resources.