Iranian official: Country plans to increase trade with Azerbaijan to $10 billion (INTERVIEW)

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 24 / corr Trend T.Jafarov /

Trend Persian Desk conducted interview with Iranian Deputy Economy and Finance Minister for International Affairs and Head of the Investment Organisation Behrouz Alishiri.

Trend: How do you assess the economic relations between our countries? What do you think should be done to enhance collaboration?

Alishiri:  Iran and Azerbaijan has great potential for development of economic relations. Trade turnover between the two countries at the current level of $500 million does not match the potential of the two countries. We plan to increase the trade turnover to $10 billion. We can develop our ties in trade, technical and engineering work, to increase investment.

Private sectors of our countries should be linked with each other. We set a goal of even greater use of potential. I think that the increase of trade turnover between the countries to $10 billion will be possible in the next 3-4 years.

We are ready to discuss issues of cooperation in various areas of the economy with the Azerbaijani side. There is a need in the implementation of preferential tariffs for products to improve the relationship between entrepreneurs. We need to simplify the terms of cargo transportation between the two countries. I offer to arrange "single window" for our countries' customs check-points. We must implement the transport of goods at low customs duties. This must be done to increase turnover.

The second promising area of cooperation is the engineering sector. Today, one of the largest construction companies of Iran conducts large-scale construction work in Azerbaijan. According to my information, the Azerbaijani construction contractors also have great potential. I do believe that companies of our countries can cooperate well in this area.

The global economic crisis gave us a very big lesson. The crisis showed that countries with good regional links and extensive trade relations have experienced the smallest losses from economic crisis. Those countries that are cooperating with the global markets have suffered more.

The third issue is investment. The Iranian and Azerbaijani companies have great potential for investments in oil, gas, energy, industry and other fields. Iran is ready to invest in profitable projects in Azerbaijan. We also invite the Azerbaijani investors to Iran, let them come and invest their funds.

As a nation we try to create an effective working environment for the private sector. It is necessary to further expand cooperation in the fields of insurance and finance for joint cooperation of our countries' private sectors.

Q: the U.S., EU and Australia imposed sanctions against Iran. What can you say about it?

A: We will still continue our activities. Iran's economy is so enormous, that the sanctions will not really work. This is not my words, I rely on the index. Over the past years, we have carried out privatization in the amount of $ 60 billion. The state has privatized and transferred to the private sector $ 30 billion in 2009. This year the state plans to sell 300 private sector companies. This is the first index.

The second index is exchange-trade funds of Iran and Tehran. There is a growing amount of capital of Iranian goods in the world. In 1388 (the Iranian calendar) (2009) growth of sales in the Iranian markets exceeded 60 percent, that is, the Iranian stock exchange has one of the highest rates in the world. Following the imposition of sanctions amount of the sale increased from 4 to 10 percent in the Iranian market.

The third index is the increase in imports and exports. Over the past 3-4 months import and export of Iran, increased by 13 percent compared to 2009. Even more important is that the level of foreign investment in Iran has risen to record bars.

It is necessary to take into account nowhere else than Iran it impossible to get such profits from projects. Today, well-known campaigns, putting their money in Iran, receive greater profits. They invest this profit in certain projects in the world markets. It is impossible to impose sanctions on such an economy. I think that the application of such sanctions is nothing but a means to protect the status of those who applied them.  

Q: To cover the cost of the project "South Pars" and other oil and gas projects, Iran has started to sell securities ...

A: For the first time last year securities were distributed among Iranian people to participate in projects. Very profitable interests are envisaged for such partnership. The Iranian banks provide guaranty for these securities. As far as I know, so far securities have sold in the amount of $500 million. It is planned to sell securities worth $12 billion this year. Both local and foreign entrepreneurs can buy these securities. I think by offering eight percent of profit the Iranian government creates all conditions for foreign investors to invest. Upon the president's instruction, we plan to use domestic financial sources for oil and gas projects along with international financial sources.

Q: What was the impact of fall in euro rate on the Iranian economy?

A: If euro rates go on falling further, we will reserve our reserves in another currency. We will try in an effort deposits and currency reserves could preserve their force. We keep our reserves not only pounds, but also euro and rial. Our investment portfolio changes depending on rate of euro, dollar, pound, or another currency.

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