Economy minister reveals plans to boost trade with Azerbaijan
Iran is in keen to cooperate with Azerbaijan in the agriculture sector, said Iran’s Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Masoud Karbasian, adding Iran is capable of sharing its experience to the neighboring country.
Iran has proper experience and technology in the agriculture sector, therefore the Islamic Republic is interested in cooperation with other countries, including Azerbaijan, in this sphere, the minister told Trend News Agency.
Turning to Iran’s annual imports of agriculture products, he said Iran could meet a part of its needs for agriculture products by growing and harvesting agricultural plants abroad.
He touched upon Iran’s agricultural experience in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Brazil as well as South Africa, noting agricultural cooperation could play a major role in broadening trade ties.
Iranian and Azerbaijani officials plan to launch a joint venture to produce agricultural machinery and equipment.
The Islamic Republic exported 5.8 million tons of agricultural products worth of $5.686 billion during the year to March 20, which indicates a 21.7-percent growth in terms of volume and 3.61 percent in terms of value.
Iran’s agricultural exports constituted 4.48 percent of its total non-oil exports in terms of volume and 12.97 percent in terms of value.
Special economic zone
Karbasian said that Iran welcomes Azerbaijan’s proposal to create a special economic zone in the Iranian border city of Astara.
The establishment of special economic zone, he pointed out, would exempt Azerbaijan from some regulations and it would also provide opportunities for Baku to benefit from its investments in Iran’s Astara. Karbasian further vowed to follow up on the proposal to help Azerbaijan make use of its investment plan in the Iranian border city.
The proposal to set up the economic zone was made by Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev at a joint meeting on Oct. 26.
Azerbaijan has earlier agreed to provide €60 million in investment for developing railway facilities there.
Use of national currencies
The minister called for using national currencies in trade with Azerbaijan, terming the expansion of banking cooperation as the means for broadening economic and industrial ties between the two countries. Karbasian said the two sides are in talks on establishing an independent bank to facilitate financial ties between the two countries, as well as using national currencies in bilateral trade. Speaking about Iran’s experience in using national currency in trade with Turkey and Russia, he said that the same method can be applied for Azerbaijan.
Earlier in September, the central banks of Iran and Turkey inked an agreement on conducting bilateral trade using local currencies.
Based on the agreement, the Iranian and Turkish central banks will allocate a credit of five billion liras and its equivalent in rials to their respective agent banks. This amount will be used as letters of credit with a repayment period of one year for both countries’ traders.
Karbasian described a proposal on launching a joint venture on bus production in Azerbaijan as significant, adding the bus manufacturing industry is capable of creating jobs.
Iran, he added, has been producing and exporting buses for the past 70 years. He pointed out that his country is ready to transfer its know-how on manufacturing buses to neighboring countries including Azerbaijan.
Speaking about Iran’s experience and knowledge in manufacturing buses, the minister hoped that the talks with Azerbaijan in this respect would bear fruit in the future.
Karbasian added that the cooperation between the two countries in the joint venture for producing passenger cars in Azerbaijan, has paved the ground for joint production of buses.
Iran Khodro and Azermash are planning to launch the first Iranian-azerbaijani joint venture for producing passenger cars in near future.
Officials announced earlier that the construction of the joint venture’s production line for cars in Azerbaijan’s Neftchala industrial park has almost been completed and it will probably go on stream by March.
Other fields of cooperation
Karbasian also touched upon plans to expand cooperation in other spheres in particular marine transportation, power generation and customs services.
Highlighting the possibilities for broadening the cooperation in marine transport in the Caspian Sea, he said that the development of Iran’s Caspian and Amirabad ports, as well as Azerbaijan’s Alat port will create the facilities for launching maritime transportation to transport freight and passengers between the two countries.
The two sides also discussed the ways to increase the working hours of customs services between the two countries with a view to ease transit of goods.
Karbasian then turned to electricity swap between Iran and Azerbaijan and called for following up on the plans to widen cooperation in this regard.
During the visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Iran on Feb. 23, 2016, an agreement was signed for cooperation on the use of water resources and continuation of construction and operation of the Khodafarin and Qiz Qalasi hydroelectric facilities on the Aras River.