Domestic Economy

Lebanese Delegation Scours Iran for Opportunities

Lebanese Delegation Scours Iran for Opportunities Lebanese Delegation Scours Iran for Opportunities

Lebanese traders are determined to invest in Iran’s consumer goods sector, including companies involved with food distribution, telecommunications, technology, hotels and pharmaceuticals, said the visiting president of the Lebanese Businessmen Association better known by its French initials RDCL.

Speaking in a Tuesday meeting with a group of Iranian and Lebanese economic players at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Fouad Zmokhol added that removal of anti-Iran sanctions and the potential investments down the road would cut the unemployment rate significantly and raise domestic consumption.

Zmokhol is heading a 26-member trade delegation representing the country’s notable companies in a wide range of sectors.

“We are upbeat about the opportunities Iran will offer to the region in coming years,” the ICCIMA news portal quoted him as saying.

ICCIMA vice president for international affairs, Farhad Sharif, noted that the visit by Lebanese trade mission is the first step toward expansion of economic exchanges between the two countries. He added that Lebanese traders have created a vast, global network so the two sides must take up this opportunity to further their relations.

“By joining hands, we can expand infrastructure to reach the best in transportation and shipping sectors, among other things,” he said.

Abolqasem Shafiei, the head of Iran-Lebanon Commerce Council who was also present at the meeting, said problems associated with customs and lack of a direct shipping route between the two countries are barriers in the way of fruit, olive, IT and gemstone imports to Iran.

Referring to the large number of Lebanese migrants in Central Africa and Latin America, Shafiei said, “This is an excellent chance to broaden trade ties with the countries of these regions.”

  Wide-Ranging Cooperation

Iran is ready to allocate a plot of land at Tehran’s International Permanent Fairground to the Lebanese for construction of a hotel, said the head of  Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, Valliollah Afkhamirad, in a separate meeting with Zmokhol.

“Iran is willing to tap into Lebanon’s experience in hotel construction, hospitality and tourism industries, given the considerable success they have achieved in this field,” IRNA quoted the Iranian official as saying.

Afkhamirad also hoped to see the two countries’ trade triple and reach $300 million per annum.

“RDCL is in fact Lebanon’s private sector and would sure deliver on its promises,” said Zmokhol. “Some of us are here for the first time and the advancements you’ve made have struck us by surprise.”

Zmokhol noted that Iran is sure to play a significant role in the region’s economy and trade now that the sanctions are about to be lifted.

Lebanon counts on doubling its $100 million annual trade with Iran, according to sources at the Beirut Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture. However, banking ties, broken due to sanctions imposed by the United States on Tehran in 2007, must first be restored, an article in The Arab Weekly read.

“Iran has $100 billion worth of companies listed on Tehran Stock Exchange,” said Zmokhol prior to his Iran visit, adding that many companies are run well and are attractive to Lebanese businessmen.

“Lebanese banks had to sever their ties with their Iranian counterparts, for fear of US retaliation,” a source with the Association of Banks in Lebanon said. “Restoration of banking ties is crucial for any later dealings to go forward.”

Adnan Kassar, head of Lebanon’s Economic Associations, advised in July that any Lebanese business visit to Tehran should be well prepared.

“Lifting the sanctions will be a good opportunity for both countries. Iran has 80 million people and its economy is the second largest in the region after Saudi Arabia,” he said. “But any visit should be prepared for in accordance with the pace of lifting sanctions.”