Iran World Trade Center organizing trade trips to U.S.
By Dalga Khatinoglu
President of Iran World Trade Center Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour has said that the center is making arrangement to send trade delegations to the United States and Europe.
After several years of suspending the travel of Iranian economic delegations to the United States and Europe, several Iranian delegations have been scheduled to have a series of trips to the U.S. to spur bilateral economic ties.
An Iranian-American source told Trend Jan.16 that the travel plans were "coordinated and organized by the Iran World Trade Center".
The source said that the delegations will be dispatched to the U.S. after March 21.
Sabzalipour told Trend Agency that "mutual visits of Iranian and U.S. entrepreneurs are on the agenda of the Iran World Trade Center now, but not for the coming days. However, such visits will be organized when convenient."
"World trade centers have the potentiality to make arrangement for exchanging trade delegations between member states around the world. Organizing trade delegations to countries which have political relations with Iran is possible in the shortest possible time. But, the U.S. is the only country which has limited its economic relations with Iran due to imposing unilateral sanctions against Iran. The unilateral sanctions have restricted economic ties between the two countries. However, paving the way for resuming economic relations with the country is not impossible. A thaw in relations is necessary. We have used the same method for progressing economic ties with the United states."
According to him, powerful figures in the two countries advocate exchanging trade delegations, but neither the government nor any government company are directly involved in dispatching trade delegations to the U.S. and Europe.
However, a senior U.S. government official told Trend Jan.16 that "the U.S. government has nothing to do with any visit of any Iranian trade delegation and does not encourage it or welcome it at the current time".
Sabzalipour added that a number of renowned European and U.S. companies in the fields of investment, real estate and construction, oil, car, electronics, telecommunications, and service sectors have been negotiation with Iran World Trade Center in order to be present in the Iranian market. "It is hoped that the companies would start activity in Iran if the nuclear talks are fruitful."
The last Iranian trade delegation was sent to the U.S. three years ago. The head of Iran World Trade Center said "Lack of government support and some restrictions, which should not be publicized by media outlets, have interrupted sending other delegations. If the government resumes support, Iran World Trade Center will expedite implementing such programs."
According to Iran Custom Administration, over 90 percent of Iran's exports are destined to eastern countries and over 75 percent of Iran's imports are originated from eastern countries.
Sabzalipour noted that Iran has had a tendency toward the West during history, so that its industrial units, including Iran's aviation industry have been established and manufactured by western countries, especially by the U.S., but since the sanctions against Iran have been escalated, China and Russia have held greater shares of the Iranian market.
"It should be noted that China and Russia should be regarded as alternatives just in the short term. For the time being, the two countries gains huge economic benefits in Iran."
Dalga Khatinoglu is an expert on Iran's energy sector, head of Trend Agency's Iran news service
Follow him on @dalgakhatinoglu