Domestic Economy

Greek Trade Delegation to Visit Tehran

Greek Trade Delegation to Visit TehranGreek Trade Delegation to Visit Tehran

Some 40 Greek entrepreneurs will be taking a close look at the Iranian market for business opportunities, as they accompany Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias during his visit to Tehran at the end of this month.

A wide range of businessmen will join the Greek minister since several sectors are hoping to enter the Iranian market, wrote Athens-based daily newspaper Kathimerini’s English Edition on its website on Tuesday.

The delegation to Tehran will include representatives of Aegean Airlines, Viohalco, Hellenic Petroleum, EKME, Moundreas, Panou Audiovisual, Space Hellas, J&P, Kapachim, Diamonds Shipping & Trading, ATC, AAS and North Aegean Sea Canneries, as well as construction materials and food companies.

There will also be a strong presence of Greek pharmaceutical companies such as ELPEN, Demo and Vianex.

Organizers are speaking of a strong interest by the Greek business community, as the Iranian market is considered the biggest unexploited market in the region.

Iran has great natural resources, especially hydrocarbons and minerals, and remains in many ways underdeveloped but there is a big demand for infrastructure and commodities, according to the newspaper.

  A Transit Bridge to Europe

Crucially, Iran is eager to explore alternative commercial routes to Europe and Greece could be that bridge, it added.

In late August, it was reported that Iran’s Ministry of Roads and Urban Development advised companies shipping to Europe to avoid routes passing through Turkey, in the latest sign of how Iranian transit authorities have become increasingly worried by political developments in the east of Turkey.

This came after several Iranian trucks become the target of arson attacks in Turkey, which Ankara blamed on armed forces affiliated to Kurdistan Workers’ Party otherwise known as PKK. Iran demanded Ankara to guarantee the safety of Iranian transit and property but Tehran found results unsatisfying, indicating its lack of confidence in Turkey’s ability to stem the violence.

Recently, director general of Iran Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization’s Transit and Border Terminals Bureau announced that Iran has held negotiations for the establishment of a new transit corridor to Europe—an alternative to the current route that passes through Turkey—with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Italy and Greece.

“It has been decided that we draft a preliminary agreement and send to the six [aforementioned] states. The final agreement will then be signed by their transport ministers accordingly,” Mohammad Javad Atrchian was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency in late October.

The recent negotiations with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Italy and Greece are centered around a new transit corridor passing through Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy.

Trucks will be shipped by RoRo (Roll-on/roll-off) ships from Georgia to Bulgaria across the Black Sea. The same method can also be used for trucks shipping goods from Greece’s southern ports to Italy using the Mediterranean Sea.

“The government has not yet assessed the costs and time of transportation via the new transit corridor,” said Atrchian, adding that these assessments and the number of RoRo vessels and other infrastructure developments are yet to be discussed with the target countries.

  New Era in Economic Relations

Last month, Athens hosted an event dubbed “Greece-Iran: A New Era in Bilateral Trade and Economic Relations”, which was co-hosted by the Pan-Hellenic Exporters Association and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“One of the priorities of the new government of Greece is to expand economic and trade relations with Iran,” said Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas at the event.

“Greece is willing to sign major deals with Iran to expand economic ties,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Greek Foreign Ministry’s Secretary-General for International Economic Relations Giorgos Tsipras, who was also present at the gathering, said Iranian and Greek economies can complement one another, creating opportunities for Iranian investments in Greece and the upgrading of bilateral commercial relations in the sectors of services, products and energy, as well as in the fields of culture and tourism, Hellenic Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

“The Foreign Ministry will provide tangible support for efforts to upgrade Greek-Iranian bilateral economic relations,” Tsipras added.