EghtesadOnline: A 35-member delegation from Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture led by the chamber's chief, Gholamhossein Shafei, have wrapped up a visit to Belgium and Luxembourg to discuss expansion of economic cooperation.
The delegation arrived in Brussels on Tuesday and held meetings with officials, including Minister-President of Flanders Geert Albert Bourgeois and President of the Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce Rene Branders, in which both countries' representatives expressed their interest in increasing the level of mutual cooperation, ICCIMA's official news website reported.
"Both countries' officials and private sectors are willing to expand bilateral relations," Shafei said, adding that Iran has a stable economy and is one of the safest and most lucrative countries for investment in the region.
ICCIMA's chief noted that Belgium could help Iran develop railroads while there have been fruitful negotiations between Iran's Shahid Rajaei Port and Port of Antwerp in Belgium to increase trade volume, Financial Tribune reported.
He also pointed to health, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and oil sectors as other potential grounds for mutual activity.
Bourgeois said his country is also interested in improving relations with Iran and noted that Belgium is European, not American, and that is why their offices in Tehran have been open during the years sanctions isolated Iran's economy.
"We are interested in increasing our ties with Iran because of its powerful and creative workforce. Therefore, Belgium is ready to bolster its relations in all possible economic sectors with Iran," he added.
Bourgeois announced that in November, a Belgian delegation will visit Tehran and Isfahan to assess ways of augmenting economic ties.
"We are the country of small- and medium-sized enterprises with famous production facilities that benefit from well-known researchers," he said.
Shafei said after the nuclear sanctions on Iran were lifted, a lot of opportunities in the country's economy have emerged and the private sector is ready to begin its cooperation with Belgian SMEs.
He noted that Belgium could invest in Iran's unfinished projects while both countries can engage in joint investment in a third country.
"Iran and Belgium have great tourism potentials and after 60 years, there are direct flights between the two countries which will increase the number of tourists and businesspeople visiting Iran and vice versa," he said.
Iran-Belgium trade stood at $723.83 million in 2016, according to figures released by ICCIMA.
Iran exported close to $190.57 million worth of goods to Belgium during the period, registering a 147% rise compared with 2015. Belgium exported nearly $533.27 million worth of products to Iran over the same period, indicating a 20.4% year-on-year increase.
The Iranian delegation left Belgium for Luxembourg on Thursday to discuss matters of mutual interest with their counterparts.
During the trip, Shafei met with the head of International Relations and Communications Department at the Central Bank of Luxembourg Cedric Crelo and discussed establishing mutual banking ties.
ICCIMA's chief mentioned the previous trip of young entrepreneurs and companies from Luxembourg to Iran a couple of months ago, in which both countries' businesspeople got to know each others' capabilities and demands.
"Lack of banking relations is currently the main hurdle of Iran's international trade and Luxembourgian banks can help Iran establish new international banking ties," Shafei added, noting that there are a lot of mutual banking, financing and investment opportunities that need to be focused on.
Back in February, Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia met with Luxembourg Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Jean Asselborn at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance in Tehran to sign an agreement for promoting mutual support for investments with the goal of guaranteeing investment safety for the businesspeople of both countries.
Iran-Luxembourg trade amounted to $4.29 million in 2016, registering a 127.6% increase compared with 2015.
Over the period, Iran exported $394,000 worth of goods to Luxembourg and imported close to $3.9 million in return.
According to ICCIMA, Iran had a $922,000 trade deficit with Luxembourg in 2015.