Economy, Domestic Economy

Swiss Delegation Explores Avenues for Cooperation

Swiss Delegation Explores Avenues for CooperationSwiss Delegation Explores Avenues for Cooperation

Swiss business representatives, who arrived in Tehran earlier this week, met with the business community and chairman of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines, Gholam-Hossein Shafei on Monday to identify possible areas for expanding economic cooperation.  

The high-ranking Swiss delegation comprising executives from the pharmaceutical, green energy and services sectors, headed by former ambassador to Iran Livia Leu Agosti, arrived in Tehran on Sunday with the aim of exploring business opportunities and increasing bilateral economic relations, IRNA reported on Tuesday.

Shafei underlined the historical, cultural and economic affinities between two countries, expressing Iran’s eagerness to benefit from the capacities and expertise of Swiss companies to upgrade the industrial machinery used in the food, textile and pharmaceutical industries as well as to revive the watch industry.

Pharmaceutical, tourism and medical equipment industries were mentioned by the official as other possible areas for cooperation, noting that Iran’s investment laws and the government’s economic policies over the past two years [since the new administration led by President Hassan Rouhani assumed office] have been devised in such a way to facilitate entry of foreign firms.

Shafei mentioned Iran’s strategic geographical position which he said provides “suitable ground for cooperation with neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and the Caucasus region,” adding that investors in Iran’s market could benefit from a vast regional market with a population of approximately 350 million people.

Referring to the problem of water shortage, Shafei pointed out the potential for cooperating with Swiss companies to incorporate modern irrigation systems and farming techniques in the country.

He also hinted that as Switzerland’s mineral resources are depleting, the two countries can expand collaboration for exploring and extracting Iran’s vast mineral reserves.

Livia Leu Agosti, who served as ambassador to Iran from 2009 to 2013, said she was happy to visit Iran after two years and expressed hope that economic relations between the two countries would enter a new phase after the sanctions [imposed against Iran by the West over its nuclear program] are lifted.

Agosti is currently a delegate for trade agreements at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Switzerland’s ambassador to Tehran, Giulio Haas and chainman of Iran’s Foreign Joint Venture Association, Seyyed Hossein Salimi were also present in the meeting.

 Reviving Gas Project

Meanwhile, deputy oil minister Hamid-Reza Araqchi on Monday hinted that Switzerland is willing to revive the plan to pipe Iran’s natural gas to Europe, saying: “The European countries, including Switzerland are interested in importing gas from Iran to meet their energy needs in the coming years,” Fars news agency reported on Monday.

In 2007, a major 25-year gas contract was signed between the Swiss company Elektrizit?tsgesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) and the National Iranian Gas Export Company to export over 5 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the Persian Gulf reportedly valued at 18 billion euros. But, EGL unilaterally suspended the gas contract with Iran in October 2010, supposedly due to the western sanctions.

> Novartis Investment

Meanwhile, Chainman of Iran’s Foreign Joint Venture Association, Seyyed Hossein Salimi announced on Monday that the giant Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, has decided to invest in Iran after assessing the business opportunities through rigorous analysis of the Iranian markets.

Novartis is a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Basel, Switzerland. It is one the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, ranking as the world’s second biggest company in terms of revenues, he was quoted by IRNA as saying, noting that the company currently has a sales and distribution office in Tehran.