EghtesadOnline: A high-ranking representative of Iran's private sector has called for boosting trade by devising a comprehensive roadmap for cooperation.
In a meeting with Norway's Ambassador in Tehran Lars Nordrum early last week, Deputy President of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Pedram Soltani called on the diplomatic representative to devise a roadmap to identify potentials as a first step to improve Iran-Norway trade.
"If the two countries are to be successful on this path, we must constantly exchange information about our respective economic conditions," ICCIMA's official news website quoted him as saying on Tuesday.
According to Financial Tribune, Soltani added that the effects of recently reimposed US sanctions against Iran on trade and currency are "unclear".
"The costs of restarting ties will be more significant than maintaining them," the private sector representative warned, conceding that several Norwegian companies have shown willingness to continue working with Iran, something that he said shows their awareness of potentials.
After US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran's nuclear deal in May, he reimposed sanctions whose second tranche came into effect from Nov. 5. They sent Iran's national currency, the rial, into a freefall, significantly affecting the private sector that is still mired in a state of confusion.
Soltani said the grounds are prepared for Iran and Norway to cooperate in technology exchange, educational and cultural fields.
He also announced that a Iran-Norway trade commission will be established soon, adding that its members have years-long experiences in working with Norway and are therefore familiar with challenges and rewards.
Soltani referred to a study conducted with the help of the Statistical Center of ICCIMA for finding out the size of private sector in Iran's economy.
According to the official, the private sector's share is about 54% of the total economy, contrary to the popular belief that the private sector only has a 20% share.
"The private sector holds a 90% share of the agricultural sector, 100% share of the iron sector, 80% share of the transportation sector and a share of about 50% in small- and medium-sized enterprises," he said.
According to Soltani, one of the positive results of sanctions has been that they have brought Iran and its regional neighbors much closer in terms of trade and economic ties.
"Iran's share of total trade with neighbors stood at 50% last year, which can go up to 70%," he said.
Nordrum said he is there mainly to discuss in better detail the current conditions of Iran after the reimposition of US sanctions.
He pointed out that four sectors of fisheries and agriculture, oil and gas, transportation and renewable energies are the main areas of bilateral cooperation between Iran and Norway, all of which have faced challenges due to restrictions slapped on Iran's banking channels by US sanctions.
"Some companies are trying to adapt themselves to current conditions and continue work, as they wish to keep working with Iran in spite of the unclear and difficult image of trade," he said.
The Norwegian ambassador criticized the fact that the volume of Iran-Norway trade remains lackluster, saying a delegation from Norway's tax sector will soon travel to Iran.
"The delegation will engage in negotiations and conduct preliminary work to sign an agreement for eliminating the need to levy value-added tax," he said.
Nordrum announced that the embassy has had negotiations to pave the way for exporting fish to Iran.
"Another delegation will visit Iran in this regard in the next four months," he said.