EghtesadOnline: Up until this moment, special need provision and strategic goods purchases, have defined Iran and India’s economic relations. Iran has been a major energy provider for India. And at the same time, India has been supplying Iran’s major portion of rice consumption.
“Saurabh Kumar”, Indian ambassador to Iran in an interview with ILNA economic correspondent has expressed hope about the growth and development of the two countries’ relations.
Claiming that the relation between the two is as strong as ever, he said that the capacities of economic and trade cooperation and partnership is undoubtedly increasing.
ILNA: First of all, please describe the current economic collaborations between Iran and India.
KUMAR: The two countries have close relations and economy has played a major role in our relations. The official statistics of economic and trade partnerships are reporting a 15 billion dollar trade between Iran and India. Such statistics does not include the trading through channels like Dubai. Considering those exchanges, we will be able to say that the volume of our trade relations is up to 20 billion dollar.
ILNA: At the moment, oil is the most important part of our trade relations and India is among the countries that even during American economic sanctions, kept purchasing Iran’s oil. Today, with the lifting of sanction and the problems associated with it, there are concern regarding the payment backlog built up from that time. How much are India’s debt to Iran in this sector?
KUMAR: Indian refiners do not owe anything to Iran and up until now, has paid back all the financial obligations. The important point here is that the amount of Indian import from Iran is higher than its export. Therefore Iran is more benefiting from our trade relations and India has cleared all the debt, and balanced the accounts. Another point is that since during the sanctions, transaction in Euro was limited, and as today these problems are gone, we can claim that India is not indebted to Iran.
ILNA: India has expressed inclination in investment in Iran and has emphasized participating in oil and gas, and Chabahar’s port projects. At what stage are the plans?
KUMAR: India has plans of strong presence in Chabahar’s port. We are also looking for direct investment in Petrochemical projects. At the moment we are seeking a confident Iranian partner and looking for investments in joint-venture forms. Our aim in these investments is the direct transfer of Iranian petrochemical products through Oman Sea. What’s significant in Petrochemical industry is petrochemical feedstock and we think that 3 cent is a proper price which can stimulate the investors. India is willing to boost the trade volume between the two countries. In the future, we’re looking for providing the major portion of our oil from Iran.
ILNA: As rice is one of India’s major exports to Iran, why India hasn’t done enough in branding, packaging and standardization of the product, since today there are rumors about Indian rice being contaminated?
KUMAR: These rumors are baseless and are only spreading in social networks. There hasn’t been any official sources who confirms such claims. Indian companies are looking for official evidences and documentations to prove inaccuracy of the repots. We export rice to about 130 countries in the world and the volume of our rice exports would yearly sums up about 4 million tons.