Iran has once again broached the possibility of signing a Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) with India, which could increase bilateral trade to $30 billions.

The 16th India-Iran Joint Commission meeting, which began here on Thursday, also touched on beginning a trilateral dialogue with Afghanistan on trade routes.

“I will talk to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to explore the possibility of initialling a bilateral investment protection treaty. My mission is to use the capacity of the Joint Commission to remove all barriers in two-way trade and facilitate the flow of investments,” Iranian Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini said before the commencement of the meeting.

Addressing traders and businessmen from the two countries at a function organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Dr. Hosseini said Iran would meet India's growing oil requirements. He invited Indian companies to invest in his country's energy sector. He also held out a commitment to Indian companies to facilitate their entry in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The issue of a BIPA and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement have been on the table since the 14th Joint Commission meeting, with both sides agreeing that these pacts would encourage greater flow of capital and technology between the two countries and give greater confidence to investors.

The trilateral dialogue with Afghanistan could give an impetus to plans to activate the Chabar port and build a link to the Zaranj-Delaram road, built by India in Afghanistan. This route would allow Indian goods to enter Afghanistan as well as transit to Central Asian countries. India has been buoyed by reports of the economy in Afghanistan's Nimroz province having improved with the construction of the road.

The Joint Commission also discussed cooperation in energy, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, mining and bio technology. On Friday, the two sides are expected to ink a joint document.

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