Economy, Domestic Economy

Australian Office in Tehran to Promote Commercial Ties

Australian Office in Tehran to Promote Commercial TiesAustralian Office in Tehran to Promote Commercial Ties

Australia’s federal government will provide $5.3 million over the next four years for reopening its trade office in Iran.

The office, which closed in 2010, will be located within the Australian Embassy in Tehran and operated by Austrade—the Australian government’s trade, investment and education promotion agency, also known as Australian Trade Commission.

It will seek trade opportunities for Australian businesses and foster closer commercial and investment ties, Export Dynamic, an Australian-owned content provider for local exporters, reported.

Aussie Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, who announced the reopening plans earlier this year, says Iran has significant economic potential for Australian exporters.

“It is a large regional economy with a GDP of around $400 billion, a population of 80 million people and has some of the world’s largest reserves of oil and gas,” he said.

Australia’s trade with Iran was about $350 million a year under sanctions and this is expected to rise significantly following the implementation of the nuclear deal in January.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced in January that the country was lifting autonomous economic sanctions on Iran, such as those targeting the oil and gas sector, most banks and the transport sector. Also, many Iranian individuals and entities designated under autonomous sanctions have been removed from the Australian Consolidated List, which means that Australians can undertake business activities with these previously specified individuals and entities.

Ciobo says the new trade office will support Australian business to capitalize on export and investment opportunities in agriculture, resources, healthcare, education and water management.

“The recent lifting of sanctions has created opportunities for Australian business in areas we excel: mining equipment, technology and services sectors, and the supply of our agricultural commodities such as barley and wheat,” Ciobo said.

“Austrade has also identified opportunities for commercial cooperation in the health and medical and education and skills training sectors.”

Iranian universities are seeking greater student mobility and research collaboration with Australian universities. Currently, about 3,500 Iranian students are studying in Australia, with about 1,000 new enrolments each year.

According to the report, water management is a critical resource issue for Iran and Australia is well placed to provide policy and research advice in this regard. This sector is expected to be a major area of opportunity for Australian technology and service companies.

Ciobo met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and a delegation in Canberra earlier this year to discuss the reopening of the trade office.

While in Australia, Zarif also met with his Aussie counterpart.

“A new chapter has begun in Iran-Australia ties,” he said at a joint press conference.

Austrade is now working, in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs, to ensure Australian businesses are well positioned for the opening up of the Iranian economy.

The agency will provide support to Australian businesses immediately from its office in Dubai and establish a permanent presence within the Australian Embassy in Tehran from the second half of this year.

Austrade officials visited Iran in November last year after a visit by Bishop, earlier in the year.

“We look forward to enhancing commercial opportunities following the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the lifting of most international sanctions on Iran,” Bishop said in a media release posted on the website of the Australian Foreign Ministry earlier this month to introduce the next Australian ambassador to Iran, Ian Biggs.    

“Australia values its longstanding relationship with Iran and we have maintained an embassy in Tehran since 1968,” the statement added.

Caption: Australia’s Trade Minister Steven Ciobo says the new trade office will support Australian business to capitalize on export and investment opportunities in Iran.