Domestic Economy

ICCIMA Draws on Czech Experience in Privatization

ICCIMA Draws on Czech Experience in PrivatizationICCIMA Draws on Czech Experience in Privatization

Czech Republic's Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomir Zaoralek, who was accompanied by a 60-strong trade delegation, met with the head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture Mohsen Jalalpour in Tehran on Sunday.

They discussed avenues of boosting trade and cooperation between the two countries' private sectors.

"In the wake of the new climate following the lifting of sanctions, we are actively seeking to privatize the economy. On this note, joint ventures with foreign firms top our agenda," Donyay-e-Eqtesad quoted Mohsen Jalalpour as saying.

The ICCIMA head emphasized that Iran's economy has been heavily dependent on oil revenues for the past 80 years.

"During these years, a major part of the economy was handled by large state-owned firms. However, with the emergence of sanctions, we had to change our approach and move away from oil price fluctuations. Under the current conditions, Iran's economy must be based on the private sector's capabilities," he said.

This is where Czech Republic's expertise comes under the spotlight. Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the communist economic alliance in 1991, Czechs, slowly but steadily, moved toward a free market economy focused on exports. Their 4.4% GDP growth in August, which according to a report by Bloomberg, made the Czech economy the highest and fastest growing country in Europe, is a testament to the success of their transition.

According to Jalalpour, this is the transition that Iran also seeks to achieve.

"The Czech Republic has a fast-growing, highly privatized and corruption-free economy with a proper pension and population control system. Iran has a lot to learn from Czech experience and expertise," he said.

Jalalpour pointed to Iran's trade potential and its strategic geographic position and said with proper investment and cooperation, Iran can become the "trade hub" of the region.

He added that Tehran and Prague can cooperate in various fields such as renewable energies, information technology, communications, nanotechnology, environment protection, tourism, agriculture, aircraft, railroads, locomotive and auto manufacturing, and chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

A trade delegation from Iran is scheduled to visit Prague in 2016 to continue bilateral talks on further cooperation, Jalapour announced.

The Czech foreign minister welcomed the prospect of closer ties with Iran and said: "Tehran-Prague trade potential is still untapped, and we are ready to expand bilateral trade and cooperation to make the most of opportunities in post-sanctions Iran."

Zaoralek praised Iran's economic potential and its highly capable and educated workforce and said: "We are well aware that Iran is seeking joint ventures with foreign firms and is avoiding imports of finished products. Czech firms in the fields of energy, pharmaceuticals, railroads and machinery manufacturing are already in Iran working to start joint ventures, while firms in other fields are set to follow."

According to statistics by Donyay-e-Eqtesad, the highest annual trade value between Iran and Czech Republic stood at $47 million in 2012. It experienced a 45% decrease in 2013 and continued the downward trend until 2014 with another 3% decline. The trade value for the first five months of the current Iranian year (started March 21, 2015) stood at $12.3 million, with Iran exporting $2.2 million worth of dried grapes, dates and apple juice to Czech Republic and importing about $10 million worth of pharmaceutical-grade and dietary supplements, veterinary vaccines, antibiotics and steam turbine parts.

The Czech trade delegation's first stop in Iran was Isfahan Province on Friday, during which they met with members of Isfahan Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture and spent the rest of the day visiting the city's historical monuments. The European country's foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Saturday and met with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. On Monday he met and held talks with Iran's Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia.