Foreign Ministry Urged to Help Boost Int'l Trade

Foreign Ministry Urged to Help Boost Int'l TradeForeign Ministry Urged to Help Boost Int'l Trade

Lawmakers criticized the lackluster role of the Foreign Ministry in the economic sector in the first term of President Hassan Rouhani, urging the ministry's Economic Department to act as a liaison for attracting foreign investment and bolstering international trade.

While commending the newly established Economic Department in the Foreign Ministry, Shahrouz Barzegar added that "the plan [to establish the Economic Department] needs to be followed up more seriously with priority being given to [facilitation of] exporting goods to other countries", ICANA reported.

He called on the foreign minister to bring in ambassadors who have economic knowledge as well.

"The criteria of selecting ambassadors, apart from political credentials, should also be based on economic capabilities. This is of key importance in tackling issues like unemployment, job creation and strengthening the economy as a whole," he said.

  Structural Changes

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is planning to implement structural changes in the ministry under his watch for the second term that started last month.

A great part of Zarif's first four years as foreign minister was spent on resolving Iran's nuclear standoff that had taken a toll on the Iranian economy with sanctions hampering the flow of export and import.

After several rounds of negotiations, Iran and the group of six major powers known as the P5+1 ultimately reached a comprehensive nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015.

However, as the talks diverted a great portion of the ministry's attention away from other issues, the negotiations gave rise to criticism from the government's conservative critics.

With US President Donald Trump consistently threatening to rip up the deal, many in Iran have called on the new government of President Rouhani to adopt a more "self-developing" and "export-based" economy that is also in line with the mandate of "Resistance Economy" issued by the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Resistance Economy is a concept aiming to make the economy immune to foreign threats and independent of oil revenues.

To fall into line with the plan, Zarif has formed the Economy Department that would operate under his supervision, and on Aug. 16, he talked about efforts to pursue "an economy-oriented diplomacy in his new term", an idea that would require the cooperation of government and private organizations to achieve success.

"The country needs to have coordinated diplomacy in economic affairs, and surely this would lead to economic growth and [implementation of] Resistance Economy," Barzegar said.

In the same vein, lawmaker Hedayatollah Khademi said active diplomacy could help the economic sector further use the potential of neighboring countries.

"Embassies in the neighboring countries should include economy in their plans and targets," he said.

Khademi criticized the Foreign Ministry for its weak performance in terms of economy in the past, hoping that the new department would reverse the trend.

Lawmaker Zahra Saei described the diplomatic corps as a "coordinating center for economic activities" that can attract ample foreign investment for the country.

"The target markets must be designated by embassies to draw in investments," she said.



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