Domestic Economy

Philippines, Czech Republic, Vietnam Keen on Broader Relations

Philippines, Czech Republic, Vietnam Keen on Broader RelationsPhilippines, Czech Republic, Vietnam Keen on Broader Relations

Amid growing hopes for an eventual easing of restrictions on doing business with Iran as a result of the framework nuclear deal reached between Iran the world powers, countries from Asia and Europe are increasingly viewing Iran as a suitable trade partner and considering resumption or strengthening of economic relations. The Philippines, the Czech Republic and Vietnam are the latest to express interest in this regard.

Filipino Finance Secretary, Cesar Purisima in a meeting with the Iranian ambassador to Manila, Ali-Asghar Mohammadi on Tuesday welcomed the recent developments in nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group (the five permanent members of UN Security Council plus Germany) in Lausanne, stressing that a final nuclear agreement is vital for international peace and security and expanding global economic cooperation.

Purisima, who had previously served as Philippine’s secretary of trade and industry and in charge of holding the Iran-Philippines joint economic commission, expressed hope that the recent developments would provide new opportunities for the expansion of cooperation between Tehran and Manila, acknowledging Iran’s vast technical and industrial capabilities, IRNA reported.

As part of this meeting, Iran’s ambassador to the Philippines elaborated on the recent negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, providing an insight on the future of nuclear discussions, and expressed hope that a final nuclear deal would result in lifting of western sanctions imposed against Iran.

The two sides also discussed recent improvements in Iran’s economic indicators including the curb on inflation rate, highlighting the potential for increasing the current level of economic cooperation between the two countries.

Bilateral economic relations existed between Iran and Philippine before the sanctions were tightened. In 2006, the Philippines purchased between 70,000 and 110,000 barrels of oil a day from Iran, making the country one of the Philippines’ most significant trade partners in the region. In 2008, Iran agreed to invest $125 million petrochemical market in the Philippines.

However, as part of sanctions the Philippines was pressured to import less oil from Iran to avoid facing sanctions. In 2011, the Philippines imported 5.9 million barrels of crude oil from Iran. However by the end of March 2012, the Philippines did not import any oil from Iran.

  Czech Companies Eager to Enter

Meanwhile, deputy speaker of the Czech Republic’s Chamber of Deputies, Vojtech Filip, stressed the importance of expanding bilateral trade between Iran and the Czech Republic in a meeting with Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, Ali Tayebnia, on Monday.

The official, who headed a high-ranking delegation to Tehran on Sunday at the invitation of Majlis vice-speaker, Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, said many notable Czech companies active in the automotive manufacturing and other industries are vying to enter what he described “Iran’s vast and alluring markets.”

“Trade between the two countries needs to be promoted. Our prime target is to significantly increase the current volume of bilateral trade,” he was quoted by IRNA as saying, expressing hope that establishing a joint chamber of commerce would help promote trade between the two countries.

Tayebnia, for his part, referred to the Iranian government’s policies aimed at expanding political and economic relations with other countries, and expressed hope that the two countries would soon reach “fundamental agreements” for the enhancement of trade and economic relations.

“The Iranian government is doing its best to promote peace, stability and tranquility to the region.” said Tayebnia, observing that the critical conditions arising from extremism in the region hamper economic growth.

Economic ties with the Czech Republic have been growing ever since President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in June 2013.  Earlier this year, Head of Iran-Czech Parliamentary Friendship Group, Vahid Ahmadi, and Czech envoy to Tehran, Petr Stepanek, had discussed possible ways to improve parliamentary ties between the two countries.

During the meeting in Tehran on January 11, Ahmadi had highlighted the two countries’ capabilities t o develop closer ties between Iran and the Czech Republic in all areas.

Czech firms mainly export machinery products, electrical goods, and other products to Iran while the bulk of imports from Iran consist of fruit and vegetables.

  Vietnam Expo 2015

In another development, an Iranian economic delegation consisting of 13 representatives from petrochemical and industrial firms is scheduled to take part in the Vietnam Expo 2015, which is to be held from April 15-18 in the capital Hanoi, to seek joint investment opportunities, IRNA reported on Monday.

The 25th annual Vietnam Expo 2015, themed ‘Partnership towards the ASEAN Economic Community’, will be hosting 720 exhibitors from more than 28 countries worldwide, including the UK, India, Australia, Germany, Iran and Japan.

A wide range of products, from machinery, electronic equipment and spare parts, to food and beverages and healthcare products will be showcased in the event.

During a reception held by Vietnam’s embassy on April 12, Vietnamese Ambassador to Iran Nguyen Hong Thach welcomed Iranian investments in Vietnam, saying the move contributes to fostering closer ties between the two nations.

“Vietnam is currently negotiating the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 countries,” the ambassador noted, hoping that Tehran-Hanoi political and economic relations will expand with the establishment of direct flights between the two capitals.

Trade between the two countries increased from $30 million in 2003 to nearly $165 million in 2009 and $316 million in 2011. The two sides plan to increase bilateral trade to $500 million.

Figs, pistachios, oil and petrochemical products are the main exports from Iran to Vietnam. Fish, black and green tea, computer parts, and packaging machinery are among the main exports from Vietnam to Iran.