Economy, Business And Markets

Zarif Wraps Up Asia Tour With Business Forum in Tokyo

Zarif addressing Japan-Iran Business Forum in Tokyo on Dec. 7.Zarif addressing Japan-Iran Business Forum in Tokyo on Dec. 7.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Tokyo on the last leg of his three-nation tour of Asia on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, he attended Japan-Iran Business Forum at the head of a political and economic delegation and urged companies of the Asian country’s private sector to take advantage of investment opportunities in Iran and make inroads into the emerging market.

Zarif also met with the chairman and CEO of Japan External Trade Organization, Hiroyuki Ishige, IRNA reported.

The Iranian minister stressed the role of banking cooperation in expansion of economic ties at the meeting, noting that commercial institutes are engines of economic relations between the two countries.

Zarif is also scheduled to meet with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Hiroshige Seko during his Tokyo visit.

Iran and Japan signed a bilateral investment pact in February aimed at giving Japanese firms a helping hand in their efforts to make inroads into the newly opened Iranian market following the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida signed the pact with Iran’s visiting Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayyebnia during a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo.

Tokyo lifted sanctions on Iran soon after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Tehran had fully taken steps to place limits on its nuclear program, falling in line with major world powers on that.

The investment pact includes protections for Japanese companies investing in Iran as well as their assets. It will also help improve regulatory transparency.

Close to 1.7 million tons of non-oil goods valued at $670 million were exported from Iran to Japan during the seven months to October 21. The export value stood at a meager $23 million in last year’s corresponding period.

Gas condensates, carpets, pistachio, saffron, vegetable seeds and figs were the main exported commodities, according to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration. More than 34,000 tons of goods worth $221 million were imported from Japan to Iran during this period, which indicate a 31% rise in value year-on-year.

Imports mainly included industrial machinery, auto parts, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.

Before heading to Tokyo, the minister had attended similar business gatherings in New Delhi and Beijing.

On Tuesday, he assured Chinese investors at the Iran-China Business Forum that Iran provides a “safe environment” for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road are a development strategy proposed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2013 that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries, primarily between China and the rest of Eurasia.

The strategy underlines China’s push for a bigger role in global affairs and its need for priority cooperation in areas such as steel manufacturing. The initiative aims to connect China to Europe via Iran, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

China has been Iran’s biggest trading partner in recent years.

Speaking at a joint economic forum in New Delhi on December 3, Zarif announced that India’s UCO Bank Ltd will open its Tehran office by the yearend.

“Bilateral trade between Iran and India has the potential to grow to $30 billion a year,” said Gholamhossein Shafeie, the head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture, at the New Delhi forum.

According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, non-oil trade between Iran and India stood at $4.8 billion in the last Iranian year (ended March 19, 2016), down 32% compared to the year before.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints