Iranian Economy and Finance Minister: Iran can open way for Azerbaijan to enter foreign markets via Persian Gulf (INTERVIEW)

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 25 / Trend T. Jafarov /

Trend Persian Desk interviewed Iranian Minister of Economy and Finance Shamsaddin Husseini in Baku.

Q: Does Iran plan to increase cooperation with Azerbaijan in the gas sector?

A: This issue was on the agenda of my talks in Baku. We have agreed to sign a document on the purchase of five billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas per year. Currently, Iran realizes a lot of projects in the petrochemical industry. Iranian and Azerbaijani gas can be processed on the basis of petrochemical enterprises. We are ready for joint cooperation with Azerbaijan in the construction of petrochemical plants in Iran.

Iran and Azerbaijan can cooperate through joint investments in various projects. We can open the way for Azerbaijan to foreign markets through the Persian Gulf. Azerbaijan could alleviate Iran's joining the markets of the Caucasus, the CIS and Europe.

Q: Is Iran ready for proposing Azerbaijan joint activity in the field of oil processing?

A: We put up for sale both refineries ready for operation, and partially built. One of the questions that I put on the agenda at the meetings in Baku is Azerbaijan's private investments in the privatization program in Iran. We welcome the participation of foreign capital in the privatization process in our country, and in particular we welcome entrepreneurs of brotherly Azerbaijan. We invite Azerbaijani businessmen to invest in oil processing sphere of Iran.

Q: Some experts believe that privatization in Iran is conducted wrong and state-owned enterprises are given to companies related to the Sepah ...

A: Privatization is conducted through the stock exchange or on a tender basis. Purchasers may be private companies, non-state organizations. The cost of checks for the privatization exhibited at the exchange hits $20 billion. For example, I can say that one of Iran's petrochemical plants has been recently acquired by a Turkish citizen.

Q: At what stage is the realization of the project of railway transport corridor "North-South", which will link the countries of Europe and Asia through Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran?

A: I also discussed this issue in Baku. I have instructed the head of the organization for foreign investment to accelerate work on this project. The, assistance in financing entrusted to our colleagues from the Iranian Ministry of Transport. I hope the project will be completed in a short time. (A large segment of the missing railway in Iran must be constructed to realize this project). A small plot of road (about 8 km) must be built in Azerbaijan. The border bridge and other infrastructure are planned to be built between the countries.

Q: How do you assess the impact of international sanctions on Iran's economy?

A: Sanctions for Iran are not new. They were imposed on Iran before the Islamic revolution. Those days the opportunity was not given to us to create a number of technologies. We do not believe that we can get them. Now, we have achieved success in this area. We have mastered the important technology of the world. But they tell us not to use it. Our history, our civilization, culture and religion are transparent. We have no other culture, except for peace and friendship. Our science serves humanity. We believe in ourselves and rely on ourselves. But, as we see, some countries want to maintain a monopoly in their hands. They are concerned about our achievements. They think that sanctions will prevent Iran's economic development. But our leaders are aware and understand that the future of the country in technologies.

Western countries are trying to persuade us, expressing readiness to lift imposed sanctions in exchange for a refusal from our technologies. But the Iranian authorities understand that the future of the country is connected with technologies. We do not intend to sacrifice our future for the benefit of the present day. If we accept the proposal of the West, this may affect our economy.

But then, the way to reduce the impact of sanctions from the economic point of view is an important issue.

First of all, I would like to say that these sanctions are largely psychological. For example, the initial sanctions significantly effect on the economy of Iran. The impact of recent sanctions was interesting. A week after the imposition of sanctions, we have seen economic growth of 3 percent. This surprised us. We certainly did not expect reduction of the level of economy and growth of 3 percent.

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