Economy, Domestic Economy

Iran Seeks Japan’s Privatization Expertise

Iran Seeks Japan’s Privatization ExpertiseIran Seeks Japan’s Privatization Expertise

A senior Iranian official called on Japan to share its experience and expertise in privatization and the two sides discussed avenues of cooperation and investment.

Mohsen Jalalpour, head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture, made the statement during a meeting with Chairman of Japan External Trade Organization Hiroyuki Ishige, who was accompanied by a 30-strong trade delegation, in Tehran on Tuesday.

"Iran's economy is moving towards a competitive and free-market oriented economy, as sanctions and difficulties of an oil-dependent economy showed us that the empowerment of the private sector is a necessity," Donya-e-Eqtesad quoted Jalalpour as saying.

The Japanese official pointed to Iran's new economic climate and the country's promising outlook following the landmark nuclear deal with six major world powers back in July 14, and said Japanese firms seek to increase their presence in the Islamic Republic.

He added that Japan's economy is completely controlled by the private sector, and hence, Japanese firms are highly experienced in privatization.

Ishige called on Iran to tackle obstacles hindering growth and development of bilateral ties, such as cumbersome bureaucracy and issues related to intellectual property rights.

"Japan seeks to cooperate with Iran in auto manufacturing, food production and environmental cooperation," he said, adding that representatives of Japan's top economic players such as Mitsubishi and Suzuki are ready to hold talks with Iranian firms to strike cooperation deals.

Jalalpour said Tehran and Tokyo's ties must go beyond the traditional cooperation between large, state-owned firms and move toward bringing small and medium enterprises into the spotlight.

Pointing to Iran's strategic position in the region and its trade potential, he said: "In trading with Iran, Japan has to consider the 400 million-strong markets that it can gain access to in the region. And Iran, with the safety and security it offers to investors and foreign firms in a turbulent region, can act as the region's main trade hub."

According to Jalalpour, oil, gas, petrochemicals, tourism, telecommunications and information technology sectors as well as auto manufacturing and mining machinery, are some of the potential areas for bilateral trade and cooperation.

> New Vistas at Tehran Trade Fair

More than 300 companies worldwide, including triple as many from Japan as last year, have gathered in Tehran for Iran's biggest trade fair, seeking opportunities for growth in this vast Middle Eastern market poised for relief from western economic sanctions, Japan's business journal Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Among the 18 Japanese companies exhibiting at this year's event is Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal, whose wares include seamless pipe for the oil and gas industry.

NEC, which did business with the Iranian telecom sector before the sanctions, had network equipment and other technology on display. Both companies aim to rekindle business in Iran.

Others, like Fuji Manufacturing, are hopeful newcomers. Based in the city of Fujioka, northwest of Tokyo, the small unlisted company supplies machines that make instant noodles.

"With Iran's population approaching 80 million," a representative said, "its demand for food will grow."

The prospective lifting of sanctions is good news for Japanese companies looking to sell. Stunted by the sanctions, Japan's exports to Iran totaled just $221 million last year, only about one-seventh as much as a decade earlier.

Some of Japan's lost business appears to have been gained by Chinese companies that have been active in Iran despite the sanctions. The Japanese are preparing to make a comeback.

Daishiro Yamagiwa, Japan's state minister of economy, trade and industry, traveled to Iran in August to meet with Cabinet and other officials.