EghtesadOnline: Iran’s Economy Minister Masoud Karbasian met with his Russian counterpart Maxim Oreshkin in Moscow on Monday.
The two sides emphasized the need to expand economic cooperation, Mehr News Agency reported.
Leading an economic delegation, Karbasian left Iran for Moscow on Sunday for a three-day visit and to take part in the 14th session of Iran-Russia Economic Commission, according to Financial Tribune.
According to Iran’s Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei, the session focused on financing major projects, developing cooperation in transport and electricity trade, and on easing bilateral trade, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The 13th Iran-Russia Economic Commission, held in Tehran in December 2016, was chaired by Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
Accompanying the official were a 75-member delegation comprising government officials as well as representatives from Iran’s private sector, ILNA reported.
A trilateral memorandum of understanding was signed by Iran, Russia and Kazakhstan on wheat trade on Sunday.
The MoU was signed with the aim of promoting self-sufficiency in wheat production and taking advantage of Iran’s geographical position to become a hub for exporting wheat and flour in the region, IRNA reported.
Agriculture ministers of the three countries are to finalize the agreement soon.
Iran is negotiating a wheat import deal with Russia, which would allow it to increase flour exports to neighboring Iraq, the secretary-general of Iran Federation of Food Industry Associations said last month.
The deal would involve importing around 100,000 tons of Russian wheat per month for private millers who would then produce flour for export.
Kaveh Zargaran added that talks were ongoing and he expected the deal to be finalized in a couple of months, Reuters reported.
“Last week, we were in Moscow to negotiate about it and after we are done, we will start in a few months,” Zargaran said.
“We have a little financial problem to resolve but after it, we will be able to go through with the deal.”
Iranian private millers are not allowed to use domestic wheat for flour exports.
Russia, among the world’s largest wheat exporters, has ample supplies and is keen to see the deal through.
“They are negotiating with the Iranian private sector,” Zargaran said.
Iran has exported some of its durum wheat this year from its surplus domestic crop to Oman, Italy and Iraq. But Zargaran said this was not a trend that was expected to grow.
“Our policy is not really to export, though; it is for self-sufficiency,” he said.
Latest statistics show Iran’s export to Russia rose from $168 million in the first half of 2016 to $228 million in the same period of the current year. Iran imported $509 million from Russia in H1 2017.
In 2015 and 2016, Iran exported between $400 million and $500 million worth of goods and imported $1.5-1.6 billion in return.
Iran’s main exported goods to Russia are agricultural products, including dairy, livestock and horticultural products, pickles and jams, chocolates and biscuits, flowers and petrochemicals.
Imports include wood, machinery, agro machinery spare parts, paper (reexported from Finland and Sweden), iron and reinforcement bars (reexported from Belarus) and sugar (reexported from Cuba).
Iran House of Commerce was inaugurated in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan in October for boosting and facilitating trade between Iran and Russia.
The new institution is home to 14 chambers of commerce and industries from 14 Iranian provinces that will exhibit their products on the first floor of the building.
Astrakhan’s minister of international and foreign economic relations, Denis Afanasev, said the house will provide Russian entrepreneurs with a new opportunity to discuss projects and contracts with their Iranian counterparts.
Discussions are ongoing between the two sides for the creation of a Russian house of commerce in Iran, which would further stimulate relations between small- and medium-sized enterprises in the two countries.