Economy, Business And Markets

Italy Says Iran Ties Time-Tested

Finance Desk
Italy Says Iran Ties Time-Tested
Italy Says Iran Ties Time-Tested

The first edition of the Iran-Italy Summit was held in Tehran on Monday with a large delegation of Italian business leaders conferring with their Iranian counterparts on ways to foster closer ties between Italy and the Middle East's second largest economy.

Naming Iran as the gateway between the three continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, Vincenzo Amendola, Italy's deputy foreign minister told the meeting that "Italy has never left Iran and will never give up on it." He underscored the time-tested relationship between the two countries that goes back 200 years.

The high-profile event which was organized by the European House–Ambrosetti was also the courtesy of the Italian Foreign Ministry, the  the Iranian Embassy in Rome, Italy's Institute for Foreign Trade and the Italian-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It brought together some key Italian and Iranian corporate and institutional stakeholders, leading economists and opinion leaders to help build an influential community of business leaders and policymakers able and willing to reshape two-way relations.

Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister for European and American Affairs, Masoud Khansari, head of Tehran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines and Mauro Conciatori, the Italian ambassador to Iran were among the keynote speakers.

"The nuclear accord and the positive developments related to its application have opened a new page in relations with Tehran," Conciatori said." Italy is in the vanguard among the European countries in re-launching dialogue and partnership with the Iran of President Rouhani, and supports a balanced application of the nuclear agreement in all its forms."

Despite Iran's international isolation having reduced trade by €5.8 billion between 2011 and 2015, the conferees hoped the removal of sanctions can lead to €2 billion increase in Italian exports to Iran by 2020.

Valerio De Molli, chief executive officer of Ambrosetti -- a leading Italian think tank that advises the Rome government -- said Italy has 400,000 capital-based medium-sized companies, which is exactly the size of Germany and France put together and the number "perfectly matches" the dynamic talent and young potential of the Iranian population.

Surmounting Challenges

Responding to a question from the Financial Tribune regarding the status of banking ties between the two counties, De Molli said "We are aware of the existing problems, which is part of international issues and we are ready as a private consulting firm to raise the issue and push in the direction of resolution. This is among the goals of summits like these and (we want to) speed up the process."

Paolo Borzatta, a senior partner with Ambrosetti told the Tribune that Sace's agreement to open a credit line for Iran -- which is €5 billion only for 2016 -- is part of that progress. "We are fully committed to push our banks and our government to speed up the process of banking reengagement with Iran."

Khansari called on Italian banks to pursue the issue and hoped that with the full reestablishment of banking ties, Iran-Italy relations will move to a higher level through joint partnerships in fields as diverse as "renewable energy and the auto, electronics, chemicals and pharmaceutical industries..."

Takht-Rvanchi highlighted the government's policy of engagement with the outside world and attracting foreign investment in areas that "take priority" and lead to the "transfer of technology" to Iran which he described as a "safe haven" in the increasingly chaotic and turbulent Middle East.

Ferial Mostofi, chairwoman of KDD Group and a board member of several trade institutions said the partnership with Ambrosetti will pave the way for Iran to establish ties with international legal and accounting firms that in turn will also help Iranian firms to be rated by the world's top rating agencies.