EghtesadOnline: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is in India to attend the annual Raisina Dialogue organized by think-tank Observer Research Foundation and meet with top Indian officials, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
According to the Indian news outlet The Print, both sides will follow up issues discussed during Zarif’s last trip to India in May 2018, when they agreed not only to boost bilateral trade, but also to identify ways in which India could support the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, after the US withdrawal from the deal and reimposition of sanctions.
In his meeting with Indian Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, the latter said: “We had detailed discussions ... Our meeting was very fruitful and we have resolved a lot of issues.
“We have had a good discussion with the minister (Zarif). The first ship from Brazil has already been received at Chabahar ... The financial arrangement is ready. There were some problems, but we have resolved the issues.”
A container ship carrying 72,000 tons of bulk corn from Brazil arrived and unloaded in Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port on Nov. 15–the largest container ship to ever dock at this southern Iran's strategic port, according to Financial Tribune.
Gadkari said the Iranian minister presented many proposals.
"They need steel, particularly real steel and locomotive engines, and they are ready to supply urea," he said.
"India can provide steel rails to Iran and the Persian Gulf nation can provide urea to India."
"The Indian government has allowed Iran's Bank Pasargad to open a branch in Mumbai. The Iranian bank will open its branch within the next three months," Gadkari said after his meeting with Zarif.
Zarif is accompanied by a business delegation led by President of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Ghoamhossein Shafei. The chamber of commerce is home to representatives of Iran's private sector businesses.
The ICCIMA delegation seeks to identify hurdles in the way of Iran-India trade, especially those associated with banking and two-way transactions, expand cooperation in transportation and customs affairs and negotiate a preferential trade agreement with the Indian side during the visit.
The mission includes representatives of domestic producers of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, pesticides, auto parts, electronic devices, petrochemical and chemical products, and textiles, among others.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between ICCIMA and the Confederation of Indian Industry during an India-Iran Business Forum held in New Delhi on Tuesday.
As per the MoU, the two sides agreed to share all information and data on their economic, industrial and services sectors with the other side, expand joint investments and exchange commercial delegations, support businesspeople and experts in holding seminars, conferences, commercial events and exhibitions in Iran and India, and increase cooperation concerning small- and medium-sized enterprises, the news portal of ICCIMA reported.
Addressing the forum, Shafei said one of the main obstacles to expanding Iran-India trade is the "discriminatory" import tariffs New Delhi has imposed on Iranian commodities, especially agricultural products such as saffron, apples and kiwis while saffron imports, for example, from other countries to India enjoy a zero percent tariff.
The ICCIMA chief noted that Iran does not impose discriminating tariffs on goods like tea or rice imported from India and this must be taken into account.
“Officials from the two sides should pave the way for a preferential trade agreement,” he said.
Shafei said Indian banks have not remained faithful to their word despite previous agreements with their Iranian counterparts, subsequently causing numerous problems for Iranian businesspeople.
The official said that establishing an Iran-India chamber of commerce will facilitate bilateral commercial ties and ICCIMA is ready to help make this happen.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif also attended the forum.