Domestic Economy

Pretoria Secures Foothold Pending Sanctions Removal

Pretoria Secures Foothold  Pending Sanctions RemovalPretoria Secures Foothold  Pending Sanctions Removal

Iran and South Africa have signed three memoranda of understanding for establishing a joint center to share intelligence and fight money laundering, forming a common capital market and expanding technical and economic cooperation.

The agreements were reached in a meeting between a visiting South African delegation and a group of Iranian officials in Tehran on Saturday, IRNA reported.

“Tehran-Pretoria relations must go beyond diplomatic levels,” said South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in his meeting with Iran’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri.

“Bilateral relations must expand on different economic fronts, namely marine transportation, shipping, fisheries and banking. A credit line needs to be created for the two countries’ joint investments.”

Referring to 80 investors and traders accompanying him on his three-day Iran visit, Ramaphosa said South African companies are determined to engage in the Iranian market.

Jahangiri stressed the importance of boosting trade ties between Iran and South Africa and said the two countries can make a quantum leap forward in economic collaborations in the light of their past successful trade experiences.

He mentioned industry, mining, agriculture, insurance, stock market, energy and banking services as suitable areas of cooperation and said the private sectors of the two countries are more than eager to join hands.  “We need to clear the hurdles standing in the way and prepare the grounds for their further cooperation,” Jahangiri added.

“With rail and road transport infrastructures and major commercial ports in the Persian Gulf, Iran can ease the access of South Africa to the markets of Central Asia, Caucasus and Russia. South Africa could, in turn, act as a gateway for Iran to Africa, because of its superior status and suitable infrastructure.”

Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayyebnia and deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, were also present at the meeting.

“Iran’s petrochemical industry once saw a $1 billion investment by South Africa, but the anti-Iran sanctions strained bilateral ties,” said Iran’s Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, in a separate meeting with the South African official on Sunday.

Nematzadeh added that the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action would mark a new era in bilateral relations.

Under pressure from western countries, South Africa halted imports of Iranian oil as of June 2012. Before that, Iran was South Africa’s largest supplier of crude oil with 380,000 barrels per day, Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Industries Minister Valiollah Afkhamirad has described the current $50 million trade between Iran and South Africa as meager and said South Africa is keen to collaborate with Iran in oil, gas, petrochemical and mining sectors, Mehr News Agency reported.

  Mining Cooperation

South Africa has abundant mineral resources, accounting for a significant portion of world production and reserves.

The country’s mining companies are key players in the global industry. It has the world’s largest reserves of manganese and platinum group metals, according to the US Geological Survey, and is among the largest reserves of gold, diamonds, chromite ore and vanadium globally. With South Africa’s economy built on gold and diamond mining, the sector is an important foreign exchange earner. Gold accounts for more than one-third of South Africa’s exports.

Mehdi Karbasian, the managing director of Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, announced on Sunday that an agreement has been signed between IMIDRO’s research center and South Africa’s Mintek, which is a notable research and development organization specializing in mineral processing, extractive metallurgy and related technology.

“Tehran and Pretoria are set to expand mining ties through transfer of technology,” Karbasian said, adding that the surface resources of some of Iran’s mines, such as Angouran in Zanjan Province, have depleted.

“By utilizing South Africa’s technology in underground mining, we can discover new resources in those mines,” he said.

The South African deputy president is leading a delegation that includes Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane; deputy international relations and cooperation minister, Nomaindiya Mfeketo; deputy mineral resources minister, Godfrey Oliphant; deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Hubert Jonas; deputy agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, Bheki Cele; and deputy tourism minister, Tokozile Xasa, the Johannesburg-based daily newspaper Citizen cited a presidential statement.

The delegation also includes representatives of state-owned companies and agencies, including Eskom, Mintek, Council of Geo-Science, Financial Intelligence Center and SA Revenue Service, in addition to a sizable business delegation.

  Reestablishment of Trade

“The South African mission will tap the opportunity to implement mechanisms for the reestablishment of trade in agro-processed horticulture and aquaculture products, and to exchange skills and technology in the agricultural and fisheries sectors,” Ramaphosa said prior to his arrival on Saturday.

“The delegation will also explore opportunities for cooperation in the energy sector for attracting investment into South African refinery and shipping capacities and for an exchange of technology and skills in the energy sector.”

Furthermore, the delegation will explore collaboration between tertiary institutions, secure cooperation on skills development, identify opportunities in aquaculture and agriculture technology exchanges, and extend scholarships in the medical field and masters programs.

Ramaphosa is also scheduled to inaugurate the South Africa-Iran Business Council. During the 12th joint commission held in May this year, the two countries agreed to expand and consolidate trade, investment and economic relations and concluded action plans in finance, trade, agriculture and energy sectors.

At the conclusion of his visit, Ramaphosa and his delegation are scheduled to visit the companies of MAPNA Group–a major Iranian enterprise that operates in the area of construction and development of thermal power plants, as well as implementation of oil, gas and rail projects.