Iran Chamber of Commerce signs MoUs with private Chinese food & drug entities

Iran and China are keen on boosting their bilateral trade as Tehran is looking more towards the East in the wake of US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. The MoUs are a sign that two Asian countries are moving forward in expanding their relations despite US sanctions.

27 March 2019
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Iran and China are keen on boosting their bilateral trade as Tehran is looking more towards the East in the wake of US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. The MoUs are a sign that two Asian countries are moving forward in expanding their relations despite US sanctions.

Nilufar Asadi, Assistant Deputy for International Affairs at ICCIMA, left, exchanges MoUs with a Chinese official in Beijing. (Photo: Iran Chamber Newsroom)

The Iranian private sector has signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Chinese chambers of commerce on coordinating their bilateral economic cooperation.

Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) signed two MoUs with China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines & Health Products (CCCMHPIE), China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CFNA) as well as Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce.

Nilufar Asadi, Assistant Deputy for International Affairs at ICCIMA, who was representing the Iranian private sector, signed the MoUs on the sidelines of the 17th Joint Commission of Economic Cooperation between China and Iran that was held in Beijing on 19 March.

Iranian Economy Minister Farhad Dejpasand, who was co-chairing the Commission along with Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said his country is ready to carry out full cooperation with China under the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R), according to Global Times, adding that high-level Iranian delegates will attend the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) next month in Beijing.

Dejpasand hailed the Chinese initiative as a peaceful multilateral project which helps participating countries achieve greater development in transportation, technology, education and many other aspects, the Chinese paper reports.

"Iran has prepared a comprehensive plan to participate under B&R. Hope we could reach a consensus with China to implement these plans," said Dejpasand.

It's Dejpasand's second visit to Beijing in a month, with attracting investment high on the agenda.

In February, Dejpasand came to China as a member of an official delegation led by Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani. In April, he will be in Beijing again to attend the BRF with several high-level Iranian delegates.

China is Iran's top trade partner and a major importer of Iranian oil. From January to November in 2018, trade between China and Iran stood at $33.39 billion, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce of China in January.

Under increasing pressure from Washington after the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last May, Iran has stepped up effort to expand economic cooperation and attract foreign investment.

Dejpasand on Monday launched a charm offensive to around 100 Chinese company representatives in a speech at a trade forum in the Iranian Embassy in Beijing.

"We will roll out the red carpet to welcome you. When you come, we will put the red carpet away and will not let you go," he said jokingly, offering a wide range of fields Chinese companies could invest in, including energy, infrastructure, agriculture and high tech. He said that Chinese companies could set up joint ventures with Iranian counterparts.

However, because US sanctions remain, investing in Iran might still be risky.

The minister vowed to protect the interests of foreign companies and said that investors can gain much more benefits in Iran rather than risks.

"Iran won't let friendly enterprises get hurt," Dejpasand said, adding that Iran has tailored special "frameworks" for partner countries according to their cooperation fields with Iran to help companies invest and do business.

The specialized agency Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran was set up to help foreign investors, he added.

He also warned Chinese companies to "be careful about the US tactic" of raising their investment cost in Iran and to stop them from benefitting, adding that "strengthening Chinese investment in Iran will make the US feel disappointed."

He also added that the Iranian authorities are negotiating a financial and monetary agreement with China on using local currencies in bilateral financial transactions.

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