Economy, Business And Markets

Tehran, Seoul to Deepen Ties Based on Mutual Interests

Tehran, Seoul to Deepen Ties Based on Mutual InterestsTehran, Seoul to Deepen Ties Based on Mutual Interests

The size and deals struck by the South Korean mission that recently visited Iran show how the East Asian country sees and values the Middle Eastern country.

After the lifting of western sanctions on Iran, 236 South Korean companies and organizations accompanied South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s state visit to Iran starting from May 1. The size of the economic mission was larger than any other in the history of the nation.

Compare this with Park’s visit to the United States last year with 166 entrepreneurs and China 156, and this year, Mexico with 145.

During Park’s stay in Iran, 66 memorandums of understanding for cooperation were signed in a variety of fields.

The South Korean monthly magazine Business Korea conducted an exclusive interview with Hassan Taherian, Iran’s ambassador to South Korea, to hear more about the overall relationship between the two countries.  

Excerpts from the interview published on the magazine’s website on Thursday follow:

The diplomatic relationship between Iran and South Korea has been in place for 54 years since its establishment on October 23, 1962. Could you summarize the overall relationship up to now?

Over 54 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, bilateral relationship between the two countries has been friendly based on mutual trust and respect. Iranian officials have always held a positive view about South Korea. There is no impediment to the expansion of cooperation between the two countries.

Over the past few years we’ve had high-ranking reciprocal visits at the political level. Parliamentary officials of the two countries have made several trips to each other countries.

Economic cooperation has always been one of the main features of bilateral relations, and Korean companies have been involved in a wide range of construction and development projects in Iran, and Korean goods and products are popular in Iran, having their own many fans in the country.

Meanwhile, Iran is one of the oil suppliers to Korea, and would like to keep playing its role as a long-lasting reliable energy supplier to Korea. On balance, bilateral relations remain good, friendly and progressing.

In the wake of President Park Geun-hye’s recent visit to Iran, many expect the economic and cultural exchange between two countries to be revitalized. In what ways do you hope the bilateral relationship would develop further in the future?

Given that President Park’s May visit to Iran was the first of its kind ever made at this level between the two countries, it is considered an important historic visit which opened up a new chapter in Iran-Korea relationship.

It also gives momentum to bilateral relationship, which promotes mutual cooperation in a wide range of fields, namely political, economic, cultural, scientific, academic and people-to-people exchanges.

In the wake of the lifting of sanction, Iranian high potential expansive market, yet challenging and competitive, is open to foreign companies and investors.

Therefore, with a long-term plan to look into the future and through direct investment, establishment of production lines, operation of joint ventures and transfer of advanced technologies to Iran, Korean reputable companies, which have been active in Iranian market in the past, can take considerable advantage of Iran’s sizable market of 80 million and neighboring countries’ bigger market of 300 million. I hold that, through a win-win partnership involving mutual interests, Korean companies will be able to operate in Iran market more extensively, assuredly and successfully.

In cultural area, Iran and South Korea, the two Asian nations, enjoy shared cultural values … I think it is an important asset and foundation on which the two countries can build a good relationship … These commonalities lay the groundwork for promoting cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges as well as for economic cooperation between the two countries.

I am confident that we will be witnessing an increase in connections in a variety of fields such as academy, sports, arts and tourism. Launching the direct Seoul-Tehran flight would inevitably contribute to the reinforcement of these connections.

Would you tell us about the current economy of Iran and its outlook? How could Korean economy and industry be complementary to those of Iran and vice versa?

Although oil price has plummeted over last year, it appears to have gradually returned to a recovery trend since a few months back.

However, coming up with different economic plans over past few years, Iran has tried to diversify its economy and decrease its dependence on oil income to get ready for the post-oil era.

After the lifting of sanctions, Iran is intent on completing unfinished constructions of infrastructure and industrial projects. Furthermore, new projects for its economic prosperity have been defined.

To this end and in order for the nation to reinforce its economic infrastructure and increase export capacities, foreign investment and advanced technologies are required.

On the other hand, having good experiences and expertise, Korean companies can actively participate in Iran’s projects in gas and oil fields, roads, railroads, power plants, desalination of water systems, airports, building hospitals and medical centers and ICT projects, which could give a considerable momentum to the current status of bilateral economic cooperation.

Viewed from this perspective, it can be assumed that the two countries’ economy and industry could be complementary.