After suffering years of isolation, lifting of sanctions has heralded a new era of economic opportunities in Iran. Despite pressure from Zionists lobbies in the United States and pro-Israel stance of the European nations, Iran is emerging as a new economic power in the region having close economic relations with Russia and the south American countries. China, which is fast heading towards becoming the new economic power of the world replacing the United States, has signed agreements with Iran worth $600 billion, covering a range of projects including development of a new Silk route and close economic cooperation. Both Iran and China are immediate neighbours of Pakistan, which has close economic, political and cultural relations with the two countries. Pakistan has the potential to work as the bridge of opportunities between the two countries and the three countries can be converted into an economic zone.
The Iranian agreements with the five big powers of the world will not only usher in an era of peace and prosperity, but will also ensure the creation of trade and investment opportunities in the region. Being one of its closest neighbours, it will be in the interest of Pakistan and Iran to develop deep-rooted trade and economic relations. It is unfortunate that even before the imposition of sanctions; the official trade between the two nations never crossed the $1 billion mark. Smuggling is rampant and Iranian oil, diesel, textiles and ceramic items are frequently available in Pakistan because of the absence of a free trade agreement between the two countries and imposition of unreasonable tariffs on the Iranian goods in Pakistan. It remained a policy in Islamabad to prefer Saudi Arabia on Iran in purchase of oil. Meanwhile, Iran has the potential to export non-tradition items to Pakistan and Pakistan has the ability to export textile, leather and agriculture commodities to Iran through legal channels.
Iran is a middle income country and has a very strong middle class which can be a potential consumer market for the Pakistani products. Despite the fact that Iran remained a victim of irrational foreign sanctions; it still remained a lucrative consumer market for the products of European nations. Ruassia and Japan are one of the biggest trader partners of Iran. As the sanctions have now gone, it is a good opportunity for the Pakistani businessmen and entrepreneurs to establish contacts with their Iranian counterparts and start joint ventures. Opportunities are knocking our door in terms of China Pakistan Economic Corridor and Iran Pakistan Gas pipeline project. Yet is to be seen how the Pakistani nation respond to harness these opportunities.