Domestic Economy

A New Navigator at ICCIMA

Business & Markets Desk
Finance Desk
Taking effective responsibility, cutting red tape, promoting transparency and enhancing expert knowledge at the chamber are among the promises Shafeie has vowed to fulfill during his tenure
A New Navigator at ICCIMA
A New Navigator at ICCIMA
The private sector will neither be an “opposition” to the government nor a “yes-man” to the state, but would rather seek middle way to cooperate with the government and have the interest of the private sector at heart

Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture elected a new leader on Sunday, ending a month of uncertainty after its former head Mohsen Jalalpour stepped down on health grounds.

Out of the 401 ballots cast, Gholam Hussein Shafeie, a veteran businessman, narrowly defeated Masoud Khansari, the incumbent head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce to take the helm for the next three and a half years.  Shafeie garnered 198 votes while the only other contender Khansari got 184 votes.

 "I know the struggles, challenges and pains that private businesses face with every fiber of my being because I have experienced them firsthand," said Shafeie, a familiar face for the business community–not least because he presided over the same chamber for 1.5 years before Jalalpour, in an address to ICCIMA board before the vote.

Shafeie, who is also head of Mashhad Chamber of Commerce in Khorasan Razavi, has been a presiding board member of ICCIMA for the last three terms. He is a saffron merchant and the symbol of ICCIMA will change in his honor to the precious export commodity known as the "red gold" of Iran.

Shafeie says he will make it a priority to empower the ICCIMA and implement a "management pattern" for the private sector that would serve as a model for all sectors. Taking effective responsibility, cutting red tape, promoting transparency and enhancing expert knowledge at the chamber are among the promises he has vowed to fulfill during his tenure at the helm.

His comments echoed those made by Khansari who also complained about lack of efficiency in the ICCIMA, saying action and not words were needed to tap the full potential of Iran's private sector. In his address to the ICCIMA board, Khansari emphasized the importance of "collective wisdom" in running the affairs of the chamber and promised to enforce what he called a "member-oriented" organization and not one that revolves around one individual. He also pledged to strive for the interest and status of the private sector in the face of the bloated bureaucracy and a state-controlled economy.

> Stance on Gov't

Shafeie said the private sector will neither be an "opposition" to the government nor a "yes-man" to the state, but would rather seek middle way to cooperate with the government and have the interest of the private sector at heart.

"To fulfill this, the private sector should have a strong voice and a wide-ranging representative body," he said adding that a coalition of three provincial chambers has already been formed which would be expanded.

A weak private sector would not stand a chance in protecting itself, he cautioned, and called for courage to be able to air grievances. "The government should regard us as an asset not a liability."

Shafeie will no doubt face big challenges as his processor is hard act to follow. Jalalpour, a tenacious lobbyist for the private sector revolutionized the interaction of the chamber with state bodies and the parliament during his short stint and took steps to bridge the gap between private business and the government.

> Brief History of Chambers  


Haj Aqa Tarkhani, Seyyed Alinaqi Khamoushi, Asadollah Asgaroladi, Mir Mohammad Sadeqi, Mir Fendereski, Mohammad Ali Navid and Abolfazl Ahmadi were the seven members of the board of director appointed by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to run the Iran Chamber after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

In the first election of the chamber, Seyyed Alinaqi Khamoushi was chosen as the chairman of ICCIMA and the chairman of Tehran Chamber. He remained at the helm for 28 years.

In December 2007 Mohammad Nahavandian took over as Khamoushi's successor. Nahavandian was determined to create and expand a favorable business environment so that the members could participate in various economic areas and help improve the economic and social indexes, enhance business competitiveness at the national, regional and international levels and promote the economic and social status of economic players, entrepreneurs and the ICCIMA members, according to the chamber's website.

The first appointment President Hassan Rouhani made after taking office in 2013 was Nahavanian as his chief of staff. Rouhani’s choice was seen as an outreach to the private sector.  The president has often underlined that the top priority of his administration is to resolve economic problems and give a more prominent role and responsibility to private enterprise.

In December 2013, Shafeie, the two-term deputy head of the chamber, was elected as the chairman. In the eighth election for the Iran chamber, Mohsen Jalalpour was picked as the new chairman in June 2015.

> ICCIMA Duties

The Islamic Republic of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture is a non-profit entity with juridical personality and financial independence. Its duties and authorities as stated on ICCIMA's website, include:

- Creating coordination and cooperation among businesses, industrial, mineral, and agricultural entrepreneurs in enforcing the relevant laws and regulations.  

- Offering consultancy to the legislative, judiciary and executive branches of government on economic issues such as commerce, industry, mining, etc.

- Cooperation with the executive agencies and other authorities to execute the laws and rules relating to the chamber.

- Communication with the chambers of other countries and establishing joint chambers and commissions based on the strategic policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

- Holding specialized and commercial exhibitions inside and outside the country with the approval of the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade and participation in the seminars and conferences related to the chamber's commercial, industrial, mineral and agricultural activities in the framework of the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

- Surveying foreign markets for Iranian exports and encouraging and helping companies to participate in commercial fairs inside and outside the country.

- Encouraging domestic investment in production, especially with the purpose of enhancing exports.

- Surveying and arbitrating national and international issues which may arise between members or other companies through the establishment of the Iran Chamber Arbitration Center.

- Issuing membership cards in accordance with the by-laws of the Iran Chamber to complete the documents required for issuance of commercial cards.

- Establishing export and import unions and manufacturing syndicates in the areas of commercial, industrial, mineral, and services activities.

- Holding courses in commercial, industrial, mines and services in accordance with national requirements.

- Supplying, issuing, settling and certifying documents that are assigned to the Iran Chamber by virtue of international rules and in coordination with the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade.