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EghtesadOnline: Foreign ministers of the Netherlands and Spain are in Tehran for expansion of bilateral economic and political ties.

Sigrid Kaag, who also doubles as minister of foreign trade and development cooperation of the Netherlands, met with President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday. The two sides stressed the importance of boosting bilateral ties in all fields to meet the mutual interests of the two nations. Kaag said Dutch companies are ready to engage more actively in Iran’s technological, agricultural and energy saving projects, President.ir reported.

The Netherlands was Iran’s fifth biggest trade partner in the European Union in 2017. More than €1.82 billion worth of commodities were exchanged between the two countries last year, indicating a 52.76% surge compared with the previous year, according to Eurostat data shared with Financial Tribune. Iran exported €748.81 million worth of goods to the European country and imported nearly €1.08 billion in return, registering a 49.6% and 55% increase respectively compared with 2016.     

In December 2017, senior officials of Iran and the Netherlands signed a joint plan of action on expansion of economic ties. In a meeting in The Hague, Iran’s Deputy Economy Minister Mohammad Khazaei and his Dutch counterpart, Martin Van den Berg, signed the plan of action for 2018, which entails cooperation in the fields of energy, water management, agriculture, shipping, banking, technology and airport development, Financial Tribune reported.

Iran’s Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati and Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp had signed a memorandum of understanding in Amsterdam on Dec. 2 to enhance agriculture cooperation. 

Dutch flag carrier KLM resumed flights to Iran in October 2016 after a three-year hiatus.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis arrived in Tehran on Tuesday and met with high-ranking Iranian officials, including President Rouhani as well as his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on Wednesday. He is heading a delegation comprising representatives from the Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. 

The top Spanish diplomat said in his meeting with Rouhani that agriculture, industry, environment, science, academia and commerce are fields in which the two countries have ample opportunities for cooperation in the post-sanctions era.

Rouhani invited Spanish investors to engage in Iran’s industrial, energy and mining projects.

International sanctions against Iran over its nuclear energy program began to roll back in January 2016, as part of a landmark deal Tehran signed with world powers a few months earlier.

Dastis is scheduled to meet representatives of Spanish companies active in Iran on Thursday to become familiar with their needs and concerns, IRNA reported.

Some 1,400 Spanish companies are operating in different fields of Iran.

Tehran-Madrid trade stood at €1.95 billion last year, registering a 59% hike compared with the year before. 

Spain ranked Iran’s fourth biggest trade partner from among the 28 EU member states in 2017.

Iran’s exports to Spain accounted for more than €1.52 billion and imports from Spain to Iran for €423 million of the total trade, indicating a 74.3% and 20.8% growth respectively year-on-year. 

Spanish Secretary of State for Trade Maria Luisa Poncela said back in December that Madrid will guarantee all investments by that country’s investors in Iran.

“The Spanish government has announced that it will cover export and investment in Iran under the insurance guarantee, regardless of any restrictions, to protect Spanish companies participating in the Iranian market and investing in various infrastructure sectors. Therefore, the Spanish investors will not be concerned about this,” she was quoted as saying in a meeting with Iranian Deputy Industries, Mining and Trade Minister Mojtaba Khosrotaj in Madrid.

With $3.14 billion, the Spanish have been leading foreign investors in Iran’s industrial sector since President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013, according to director general of the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade’s FDI Office, Afrouz Bahrami.

Khosrotaj, who also heads Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, was on an official visit to Spain at the head of a 60-member trade delegation.

The first meeting of Iran-Spain Economic Commission was held during the visit at the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.

High-level economic committees of the two countries reviewed the areas of economic development in different sectors, including in oil, gas, petrochemical, renewable energy, water resources management, science, technology and banking.

 

Hassan Rouhani Alfonso Dastis Iran Spain Iran Netherlands Sigrid Kaag