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EghtesadOnline: With proposals to split the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade into two separate ministries making the rounds once again, a business expert says the issue should be put on the backburner because the need of the hour is free trade.

"With or without restoring the erstwhile Commerce Ministry, focusing on the benefits of free trade is a step toward sustainable development the country cannot and should not neglect," Farzad Kiasat told the  Financial Tribune. 

President Hassan Rouhani in December reiterated his call for the reviving the Commerce Ministry (merged into the  Industries Ministry in the past), saying it would benefit the country in the climate of sanctions in that it would help boost trade with the outside world. 

The parliament had earlier rejected a government bill that sought to split the ministry into two bodies as in the past. 

Kiasat noted that a developed country should have three main features: easy access to sustainable livelihood and fair distribution of basic needs; constant improvement in the standard of living, for instance education and healthcare; and lastly promoting social and economic justice. 

"If a nation’s industrialization is directed toward these goals, one could hope that it is moving toward development," Kiasat said. 

The government’s protectionist policies for instance for the dysfunctional car industry, upstream and downstream oil industries, the textile sector…have been ineffective, he noted. 

Splitting or merging ministries is nothing new in Iranian statecraft. Merging the ministries of “roads and transportation” and “housing” or that of the two ministries of “industries and mines” and “commerce”, in 2012 as part of the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (March 2012-17), are the most prominent examples, he said.   

 

Analyst Iran free trade Farzad Kiasat