India is the top 5 trade partner of Iran despite sanctions, says H.E. Dr. Safari

“India and Iran are two civilizational neighbours whose commercial ties are deep rooted since ancient times. Despite the economic sanction, India is among the top five trade partners of Iran. Both the countries are strategic partners today. Our export to India has grown 60% in 2022 and in the last two months it has grown 90%. This implies diversification of trade away from crude oil. Iran is committed to meet the energy needs of India. Iran can consider extension of the sub-sea natural gas pipeline from Oman to India to meet the energy security of the country. Already, Iran is building this natural gas pipeline to Oman, which can be extended to India upto Porbandhar,” said H.E. Dr. Mehdi Safari, Hon’ble Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Relations, Islamic Republic of Iran at an interactive meeting at WTC Mumbai.

Dr. Safari mentioned that the Chabahar port in the south of Iran acts as a gateway for India to access Central Asia, Caucasian and European markets through the International North South Transit Corridor. He remarked, “My main objective of this visit is to promote India’s trade with Iran and the Central Asian countries through this international corridor. We are also working with Persian Gulf countries, including Emirates and Qatar to promote trade through this corridor.”

The Hon’ble Minister suggested Indian companies to collaborate with their Iranian counterparts in biotechnology, nano technology, IT and other cutting edge areas, where the country has proven technological advantage. “Iran has emerged as an exporter of high technology products, including bio medicine to treating diseases such as cancer,” Dr. Safari pointed out.

Speaking about the investment opportunities for India in Iran, Hon’ble Minister informed, “Chabahar Free Zone is of high advantage for Indian economic actors. The development of Shahid Beheshti port in Iran with the investment of Indian government is on the agenda and I expect the pace of implementation of this project to be accelerated. There are also other opportunities to invest in infrastructure, tourism as well as manufacturing projects in this region.”

Dr. Safari concluded his remarks by suggesting WTC Mumbai and All India Association of Industries (AIAI) to lead a business delegation to the “Iran Expo 2023” which will be held from May 7-10, 2023 at Tehran.

Speaking on this occasion, H.E. Dr. Iraj Elhai, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran pointed out, “Despite 40 years of US sanction, Iran thrives as an active trade partner not only in the Asian region but in Africa and Europe. Today, we have created an alternative SWIFT payment settlement mechanism with 10 countries to bypass US sanctions. We are also engaged in barter trade in energy, bio medicine, medical equipments and other products with foreign countries.”

Sharing views on India-Iran cooperation, the Ambassador mentioned, “India continues to be a major trade partner of India. Iran can supply crude oil and fertilizer for energy and food security. On the other hand, Iran meets its food and pharmaceutical needs from India. Indian companies have invested in mining, steel, agriculture, technology and pharmaceutical sectors in Iran.”

He suggested Indian companies to participate in the “Iran Expo 2023” and explore trade and investment collaborations across 11 major categories.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Dr. Vijay Kalantri, Chairman, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai pointed out, “Iran can be the gateway to Central Asia and Europe. The current bilateral trade has declined from the high level of USD 18 billion in 2018 to less than USD 2 billion last year because of US sanction. We need to promote trade settlement in local currency to increase trade volume to the previous high level. By promoting trade settlement using rupee, we can reduce dependence on third countries to route our goods to Iran. WTC Mumbai will promote exchange of trade delegation between both the countries to facilitate two-way trade and investment.”

Dr. Kalantri further added, “Both the countries can address bottlenecks in trade by improving connectivity, fast-tracking road, port and the 600 km railway line from Chabahar port to Zahedan. The governments of both the countries can set up a joint task force to address the obstacles in promoting seamless trade across borders.”

Capt. Somesh Batra, Vice Chairman, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai proposed vote of thanks for the event.

The session was attended by Mr. Abolfazl Mohammad Alikhani, Consul General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mumbai, delegates from the Central Bank of Iran and other financial institutions, industry, consular corps and members of media.