Second largest country in the Gulf wants to expand trade beyond oil

Apart from oil, apples, tourism and software education are high on Iran’s trade agenda with India, according to the country’s ambassador in New Delhi Gholam Reza Ansari.

Iran is exploring new ways of expanding its trade basket with India. Its cash-rich entrepreneurs are keen on investing in India, especially in the energy sector, Mr. Ansari said at an interaction with members of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FKCCI) on Friday. On the problems faced by local exporters while trading with his country, Mr. Ansari said there is much hope on the upcoming meeting in Geneva on January 20 involving six economic powers and Iran. He expects the impending accord to ease many of the sanctions imposed on his country and remove hurdles related to shipping and logistics, and other impediments to doing business with Iran. In addition, the opening of a line of credit, provided for by the two governments, promises to lead to new and non-oil business ties.

Apples & travel

Mr. Ansari regretted that Indians are yet to taste Iran’s “best” apples. He also expects the two old friends to tap the potential for tourism and re-discover their ancient cultural bonds, dominated by religious travel to Iran. About 40,000 Iranians visit India each year, which is a small number compared to the 80 lakh outbound tourists from Iran. Iran looks to India for education, information technology, software and pharmaceuticals. Up to 7,000 students are enrolled in institutes in Bangalore, Mysore and Hyderabad.

S. Sampathraman, FKCCI’s senior vice-president, said Bangalore contributes a third of the country’s software exports to Iran. Trade with Iran is expected to cross $20 billion, up from $15 billion in the last fiscal.

To a pharma exporter’s query, Mr. Ansari said, “We are very tough on our standards especially for pharma and agricultural products. Some Indian companies have tried to sell pharma products in Iran by showing USFDA certifications. But these are not accepted as the permit is not for selling in the U.S.”

Mr. Ansari said the oil-rich country’s petrochemicals sector was open to Indian investors while the way would be smoothened for Indian pharma and incense suppliers.

Consul General in Hyderabad Hassan Nourian was present.

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