India and Iran have had engagements with each other for millennia and this includes trading relationship and it is heartening to see that this engagement continues, said H.E. Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Hon’ble Foreign Minister of Iran. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the India – Iran Business Forum jointly organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in New Delhi today.
In his remarks, H.E Dr Zarif said that Iran and India have been working and living together for centuries and this includes trading with each other. Dr Zarif also mentioned that Iran and India have strong economic relationships with Iran being one of India’s major suppliers of energy and urea fertilizers. While Iran has always relied on its domestic population to support its growth and development objectives, it is always keen to explore complementarities with other countries. According to him, India and Iran and learn a lot from each other and this includes the knowledge economy.
Dr Zarif also mentioned that challenges from the outside world exist, but Iran has always managed to survive and work with the sanctions in place and that these sanctions never impair its economic relationships, such as the one it has with India.
Gen. (Dr) V. K. Singh (Retd), Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India stated that there is a need to examine how the India – Iran relationship was built previously to explore how it can be strengthened going further. According to him, Iran has always been a close partner of India but there exist opportunities to deepen this engagement further. Trade between India and Iran stands at around US$ 13 billion but according to Dr Singh there exists a potential for doubling to tripling this trade.
He said that Iran and India can widen and deepen cooperation in engineering goods and pharma. He also said that both Iran and India should explore how more Indian agricultural and food processing products can be exported to Iran. Iran can also expand its trade with India. Saffron and organic chemicals are two of the most readily identifiable areas. He called upon Industry from both the countries to explore opportunities together.
H. E. Dr Ali Chegni, Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran to India speaking at the forum said that there currently exist opportunities for both India and Iran and these will only expand when businesses from both countries work together. He also said that the idea of the Joint Chamber of Commerce between India and Iran is a good one and should be explored.
Speaking at the Forum, Mr Gholamhossein Shafei, President, Iran Chamber of Commerce Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) said that private sector in Iran is ready to cooperate with Indian Industry. According to him, there exists enormous opportunities and existing difficulties between both the countries. He said that both the countries should explore a preferential trade arrangement between them.
Touching on banking relationships and trade in local currencies he said that Iran looks forward to strengthening banking relationships with India and the replacement of dollar trade with local currencies have caused some issues. Iranian companies are also keen to partner with Indian companies in the field of medicine. In his remarks, he called for Indian investments in the Chabahar Free Trade-Industrial Zone as it can create a powerful economic hub and also help India access many countries in the region via the Free Trade-Industrial Zone. The development of International North South Transport Corridor via Iran according to him can reduce India’s transportation costs with CIS countries.
Mr Shafei also mentioned that the creation of a Joint India Iran Chamber of Commerce can facilitate business delegations between the countries. He said that Iran’s private sector is keen to enhance bilateral ties with India.
In his remarks, Mr Tarun Sawhney, Member, CII International Council & Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Triveni Engineering and Industries Ltd said that India and Iran have traditionally enjoyed close economic ties. He mentioned that the two countries have the potential to be natural partners in the South, Central and West Asian regions given their common interests, geographical proximity and regional realities. India’s relationship with Iran is driven by its need for energy security, countering terrorism and building infrastructure to improve connectivity in the region.
Summarizing the thoughts of the speakers at the inaugural session he said that considerable opportunities exists in various sectors and cooperation in energy is a low hanging fruit. He also mentioned that political and economic will have prevailed in India Iran relationships and there exists a potential of trade to be trebled. The signing of a MoU between CII and ICCIMA is a step forward to discuss and deliberate how the opportunities present can be leveraged.
8 January 2019