Preparations Underway for Rouhani’s Visit to Russia
Moscow may conclude agreements on the delivery of engineering goods to and import of food products from Iran during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Russia later this month, Russian trade representative in Iran Andrei Lugansky told Sputnik.
Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi, who is now in Moscow to pave the way for President Rouhani’s upcoming visit, said in February after a meeting with Russian first deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov, that Tehran hoped to sign a number of agreements with Moscow during Rouhani’s visit to Russia.
“This concerns the foreign trade activities–machine building products’ supplies to Iran and the increase of supplies of food products to Russia,” Lugansky said in an interview.
Lugansky added that the establishment of the free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union and Iran would also be discussed during the president’s visit.
“A free trade agreement between EEU and Iran is expected to be signed by the end of this month,” Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday before his meeting with Vaezi in Moscow.
Novak said a Russian envoy visited the Iranian capital Tehran on Monday to discuss details of the expected free-trade deal.
“We wish for the agreement to be ready when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani makes his planned visit to Russia this March,” he was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency.
A memorandum of understanding to set up a free-trade zone between member countries and Iran was signed during the EEU summit in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan on March 7.
Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia are members of the EEU that aims to pursue common policies in economy and energy markets, and partnership in key infrastructure projects.
“The matter is currently complicated by the Iranian side that does not want to agree on the list [of goods], as our product range is wider, while theirs is narrower,” Lugansky said.
According to Lugansky, Iran should recognize the mutual interest of both countries within the framework of the free trade agreement. He referred to Iran’s intention to start the export of fruit and vegetables to Russia, which is a point of concern for Russia, as the duty-free importation of such products could create competition with local products.
Similarly, Iran fears that the import of machine building products could provoke competition with more expensive local products.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in October 2016 that over the last two and a half years, trade turnover between Russia and Iran has doubled.