Domestic Economy

Italy Drums Up Business With Tehran Expo

Italy Drums Up Business  With Tehran ExpoItaly Drums Up Business  With Tehran Expo

Seeking to regain its position as Iran’s top European trading partner, Italy is holding an exclusive trade exhibition in Tehran.

“The exhibition is a symbol of mutual cooperation,” IRNA quoted Italy’s Ambassador to Iran Mauro Conciatori as saying in the opening ceremony of the event on Sunday.

The four-day event is Italy’s second exclusive trade exhibition in Iran and will run through January 13. More than 60 Italian manufacturing and service companies, along with the country’s regional chambers of commerce, have taken part in the expo held at Tehran's International Fairground.

The participating businesses are showcasing products and services related to furniture and interior design, architecture, hotel construction, urban planning and decorative accessories as well as technical and engineering services with the intention of finding business associates and signing deals that will go into effect as soon as western sanctions imposed on Iran’s nuclear program are lifted.

Tehran and P5+1 (five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) are “days away” from the implementation of the nuclear deal they reached in July, according to the US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The sanctions led to a nosedive in Iran-Italy trade ties from €7 billion before the sanctions were imposed to a current €1 billion.

“The nuclear deal between Tehran and P5+1 will pave the way for a boost in Iran-Italy relations,” said president of Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia region, Debora Serracchiani, at the Tehran expo.

Serracchiani arrived in Tehran on Saturday for a five-day visit.

Serracchiani, who is heading an economic mission from the Italian autonomous region, said she intends to “lay the basis for new partnerships with government and financial stakeholders in Iran to be ready, despite the tricky situation in the Middle East, for when the restrictive measures still in place are permanently annulled”.

Serracchiani is eager to link an economic dialogue to one of prospects, concerning possible new partnerships in science and technology, for the transfer of knowhow to Iran's trade sectors.

“This was confirmed in November by contacts between our excellent regional research sector and the leaders of one of the largest universities in Iran, the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, which was followed by the mission of the rector of the University of Trieste, Maurizio Fermeglia, in September 2015, again to the Iranian capital, with [Education] Minister Stefania Giannini,” she said.

> Rouhani in Italy

The Italian ambassador also touched on President Hassan Rouhani’s upcoming visit to Italy.

“Bilateral relations will be consolidated after the Iranian president’s visit; Rouhani chose Italy as its first European destination, which makes the trip valuable for us,” he said.

President Rouhani is scheduled to pay a visit to Italy and afterwards to France from January 26 to 29 to explore ways of improving ties with the two major European countries.

He was due to visit Rome and Paris in mid-November, but postponed the schedule following the November 13 terrorist attacks in the French capital.

The visit will be his first to the European Union since his election in 2013. Bloomberg reported then that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi would "show off the glory of Rome to Iranian president as he seeks to spearhead a conquest of his own: a huge share of new business in the Islamic Republic".

“Two weeks after the president’s visit, a delegation of three Italian ministers accompanied by traders from the country will travel to Iran, after which we could commence broad cooperation,” Conciatori said without providing the details of the upcoming visit.

> Italian Agrofood en Route

Conciatori’s remark follows an earlier Italian news agency AGI report that Italy is ready to take its agrofood industry to Iran in February with a delegation of companies led by Italian Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina.

“We have scheduled an agrofood mission to Iran in February following the new relationship opened with this country [Iran] and the mission led by Carlo Calenda, the deputy minister for economic development, last November,” Martina was quoted as saying.

The first important moment in this relationship was on June 4 and 5, when the Iranian agriculture minister participated in the agriculture forum at Milan Expo. This meeting gave rise to a bilateral agreement with Iran and marked a first step in developing a joint agrofood project.  

The three key points of the Italian agrofood industry, according to Martina, are “sustainability, as Italian agricultural practices are the most environmentally friendly in all of Europe; the dimension of the companies, which on average are small- and medium-sized; and the close integration between the raw material production chain and the processing industries. It is a model in which we are leaders and that can be exported”.

While in Iran, Calenda, heading a 370-strong delegation, including representatives of 178 Italian companies, 20 associations and 12 banking groups, attended "Iran-Italy Business Forum", one of the biggest trade conferences held in the country in 2015.

The mission spent two days in Tehran and held 700 meetings with Iranian officials and firms to spur cooperation on different fronts and explore joint trade investment opportunities.

Also, Italian Minister of Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Paolo Gentiloni headed a delegation of Italian business leaders to Iran in early August with the aim of “regaining Italy's pre-sanctions stature in the Iranian economy”, in Gentiloni's words.

In a meeting at Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture headquarters in the Iranian capital, Guidi said Italy is eager to develop “long-term mutual cooperation” with Iran instead of simply maintaining its presence in Iran’s consumer market.