Tehran, Sofia Seek Trade Expansion
EghtesadOnline: A meeting to survey ways of expanding economic ties between Iran and Bulgaria was held in Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture on Saturday.
Attending the event was Bulgarian Ambassador to Iran Chisto Stefanov Polendakov, secretary-general of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Bahman Eshqi, and deputy head of TCCIM’s International Affairs Bureau, Mohammad Reza Bakhtiari.
“The Iranian and Bulgarian private sectors should take advantage of the upcoming Iran-Bulgaria Economic Commission to increase commercial interactions between the two sides. We need to identify hurdles in the way of bilateral trade and try to find a solution to overcome them,” Polendakov was quoted as saying by the news portal of TCCIM.
The joint commission is scheduled for April 15-18 in Bulgaria, according to Financial Tribune.
The Bulgarian diplomat referred to tourism, business and commerce as potential fields of bilateral cooperation.
“Commercial interaction between our countries is very little at present and we need to ease the processes to increase mutual trade. We also need to agree to reduce customs clearance and costs,” Polendakov said.
“Some 50% of Bulgaria’s gross domestic product come from tourism industry. We can share our experiences in this respect with our Iranian partners and engage in joint investments in the field.”
Bakhtiari said that though Tehran-Sofia trade is low, the quality of exchanged products is agreeable.
"There is great capacity for Iran-Bulgaria trade to grow, especially by taking advantage of the capacities of small- and medium-sized enterprises," he said.
In a separate meeting between Bulgaria's Parliament Vice Speaker Vesilin Mareshki and Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in Tehran on Saturday, the latter called on Bulgaria to use Europe's special payment mechanism, known as INSTEX, to continue trade ties between the two countries, IRNA reported.
"The Bulgarian parliament can play a role in strengthening economic ties between the two countries," Larijani said.
France, Germany and Britain have recently opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert US sanctions, although diplomats say it is unlikely to allow for the big transactions that Tehran says it needs to keep the nuclear deal afloat.
Washington’s European allies opposed last year’s decision by US President Donald Trump to abandon the 2015 deal, under which international sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program.
INSTEX is headquartered in Paris with a German chief executive officer. Germany, France and the UK will be shareholders.
"[We want] the Bulgarian government to use the European solution to trade with Iran,” the Iranian parliament speaker said.
Larijani noted that relations between Iran and Bulgaria in industrial and machinery trade are excellent.
Mareshki noted that his country is eager to expand economic ties and boost political and cultural relations with Iran.
Iran and Bulgaria traded more than $71.79 million worth of goods in 2018, which shows a 37.3% decline compared with the year before, based on Eurostat data shared with the Financial Tribune.
Iran’s exports accounted for more than $32.78 million of the total sum and the remaining $39 million to imports from that country, indicating a 39.1% and 35.8% decrease respectively.