Terming Iran as a good long-term market, India is now focusing on expanding its trade portfolio with a sector-specific approach in a bid to expand its trade relationship with Tehran and bring down tariff barriers, including granting preferred market status to it in future.

Senior officials in the Commerce Ministry said that India was holding talks with Iran for wheat exports. ``Iran has a zero tolerance for Karnal bunt, a fungal disease found in wheat of India's Northern States. We need to get this out of the mindset of the Iranians and get to accept Indian wheat. We are holding discussions with them and hope to work out a solution. We can even work out a deal to grant preferred market status to Iran,'' a Ministry official said. India has been pushing for wheat exports to Iran with a promise to provide it at lower rates than Pakistan.

At present, main items of India's exports to Iran include rice, machinery, steel, drugs, chemicals, fabrics and tea.

Referring to the huge potential, India is now seeking to make inroads into the Iranian pharmaceutical market. India has already held talks with the regulatory authorities of Iran for exporting Indian pharmaceuticals. “We have the best of the laboratories in the world after the United States. We can work out things and remove the barriers to allow Indian pharma products to enter Iranian markets.

The Commerce Ministry has asked the International Institute for Foreign Trade (IIFT) to conduct a study on the comparative advantages and disadvantages of India's exports to Iran and imports from other parts of the world. “IIFT has been asked to map this out and give a road map. This data will be shared with the stakeholders to devise a strategy to go into Iran,'' the official said.

Similarly, there is a huge potential assessed by a recent high-level trade delegation from India in the automobile and auto components sector.

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