Iran seeks Indian investments in Chabahar free trade zone
As part of efforts to attract funds for its infrastructure projects, Iran has asked Indian public and private firms to invest in the development of Chabahar Port and set up industrial units in a Free Trade Zone around the port. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressed the country’s willingness to take part in oil and gas exploration projects in Iran, while emphasising on the need of an early completion of all procedures for India’s participation in Farzad-B gas field. The Indian minister met Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia at the 18th session of the India-Iran joint commission meeting (JCM) held in New Delhi on Monday. “The two ministers reviewed the progress in trade and economic cooperation and a number of related matters, discussed the possibilities in cooperation in railways, including by supply of rails, rolling stock, signalling and other works and India’s participation in Chabahar – Zahedan -Mashhad railway line,” Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. During the meeting, Swaraj expressed satisfaction over India’s growing cooperation with Iran in this multifaceted field and said that efforts are also underway to enhance bilateral ties in the areas of energy, infrastructure (including shipping, ports and railways), trade and commerce. Describing Iran as a key economic partner, the Indian minister said that connectivity afforded by Indian participation in Chabahar Port will facilitate linking Afghanistan and Central Asia with India. Tayebnia also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi who recalled his meeting with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the SCO and BRICS summit in Ufa in July this year. The Prime Minister dwelled upon his commitment to strengthen bilateral relations with Iran, especially in the areas of trade, investment, oil and gas, connectivity and port development. India’s current bilateral trade with Iran is a little over $15 billion with trade heavily tilted in Tehran’s favour. The current trade revolves majorly around oil, fertiliser, cereals and chemicals products. Keeping in mind the current economic scenario in India, Iran has been eyeing Indian investments in its IT, pharmaceuticals, auto parts, electric vehicle agri-business and financial sectors. Iran now aims to normalise its deteriorated economy and spruce up its oil fields, auto and pharmaceutical manufacturing by offering generous incentives to foreign investors. It has already taken several measures like providing access to the domestic market, imposing tax at 10% or less, allowing 100% repatriation of profits and earmarking special economic export zones to attract foreign investors. India, on the other hand, is also looking to benefit from a sanction-free Iran and aims to step up investments in energy, urban development, information exchange and infrastructure modernisation activities. It has also announced that it would look forward to import its previous volumes of oil from Iran as soon as the sanctions are fully lifted. Earlier this year, Union Minister for Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari also visited Iran to explore the Iranian market. The minister, in October this year, announced that India was ready to invest about Rs.2 trillion at Chabahar port in Iran but Iranian government will need to reduce its gas prices.
December 29, 2015 | 04:30pm IST