China, Iran agree to ex­pand trade to $600 bil­lion in a decade

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

China and Iran mapped out a widerang­ing 25-year plan to broaden re­la­tions and ex­pand trade dur­ing the first visit by a Chi­nese leader to the Is­lamic re­pub­lic in 14 years.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping met with his coun­ter­part Has­san Rouhani on Satur­day, a week af­ter the lift­ing of in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions against Iran over its nu­clear pro­gram. The Chi­nese leader is the first head of state of the six-coun­try bloc that ne­go­ti­ated the his­toric deal to visit Iran.

Rouhani said the meet­ing marked "the be­gin­ning of an im­por­tant era" in Iran-China re­la­tions, the of­fi­cial Is­lamic Re­pub­lic News Agency re­ported. The visit was the first by a Chi­nese pres­i­dent in 14 years, of­fi­cial Ira­nian me­dia re­ported.

"To­day we dis­cussed the strate­gic re­la­tion­ship be­tween both coun­tries, set­ting up a com­pre­hen­sive 25-year plan and also pro­mot­ing bi­lat­eral re­la­tions of up to $600 bil­lion over the next 10 years," Rouhani said.

The two coun­tries signed 17 doc­u­ments and let­ters of in­tent, IRNA re­ported, in­clud­ing treaties on ju­di­cial, com­mer­cial and civil mat­ters. Long-term con­tracts in the en­ergy and min­ing sec­tors were also dis­cussed, Rouhani said. Iran is seek­ing to at­tract $50 bil­lion an­nu­ally in for­eign in­vest­ment for the coun­try's ail­ing $400 bil­lion econ­omy.

China is Iran's big­gest trade part­ner, pur­chas­ing oil from Iran while sanc­tions over the coun­try's nu­clear pro­gram blocked U.S. and Euro­pean com­peti­tors from the mar­ket.

Trade be­tween the two coun­tries stood at some $52 bil­lion in 2014, be­fore the plunge in oil prices. The U.S. and Euro­pean na­tions lifted oil and fi­nan­cial sanc­tions and re­leased bil­lions in as­sets af­ter in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tors con­cluded Iran had com­plied with the agree­ment to dis­man­tle much of its nu­clear pro­gram. Xi ar­rived in Tehran late Fri­day on a tour of the Middle East.

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