Centers Needed to Facilitate Foreign Investment

Centers Needed to Facilitate Foreign Investment
Centers Needed to Facilitate Foreign Investment

Western-imposed sanctions have cut off Iranian businessmen and traders from the international market, effectively leaving them deprived of global facilities and interactions for three years.

Should Iran and the P5+1 reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement that results in the lifting of sanctions, it is imperative for Iranian businessmen to quickly bring themselves up-to-date with the latest information and statistics, so writes Yahya Al-e Es’haq, a former head of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, in the Persian daily Donya-e Eqtesad.

In the past few months, droves of foreign investors have visited Iran to assess the potential for investment. Nevertheless, they usually leave without having acquired any new information that would persuade them to invest in Iran. This exposes a gaping hole in the officials’ plans to attract foreign investors: a lack of data. Memories of traditional restaurants (Sofr-e Khan-e), Persian kebabs and Iranian monuments are the only things that foreign investor take with themselves when they leave Iran.

The solution to this predicament is the establishment of centers whose sole responsibility should be to collect and disseminate data about investment opportunities in Iran. A potential investor looks for information pertaining to investment laws and regulations, business opportunities and return on investment, to name a few. They need to ensure Iran’s business environment is ready for investment and that their investment is safe and profitable.

The centers will not only provide essential information to potential investors, but they will guide investors and show them the best and most profitable path to take.

Of course, the Organization for Economic and Technical Assistance at the Ministry of Economy performs a similar function, in line with a law passed in 2002, which aims to facilitate foreign investment. Since the organization is a state-run body, the private sector is encouraged to jump in the fray.

To that end, Tehran CCIMA (a semi-governmental institution) in cooperation with the organization has taken steps to set up a center to fill the hole and provide important data about investment opportunities and help them identify development projects in line with their interests.

Gone are the days when a brochure plastered with a picture of Persepolis at sunset could amaze and incite awe. Investors and tourists are more interested in recreational and lodging facilities; in other words, they want to know more about infrastructure.

Bureaucracy in Iran can be a major turn-off for investors, so the center will facilitate paperwork for foreign investors by acting as a proxy. It will also help with visa acquisition and provide counsel when necessary.

Centers like this need to be set up all over Iran; in addition to paving the way for foreign investment, it will create jobs. Many countries have been reaping the benefits of such institutes for years. It is high time Iran got in on the action.

Establishment of centers like this, combined with more straightforward investment regulations, may be the springboard for development of tourism in Iran.