EghtesadOnline: China is willing to invest a total of $400 billion in Iran’s economic sectors as part of its 25-Year Cooperation Agreement, some $80 billion of which are to be in the mining sector, the head of Mines and Mineral Industries Commission of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture said.
“The significance of this amount becomes even more prominent when we take into account that over the last 95 years and since the reign of Reza Shah [the first Pahlavi monarch] up until now, investments made in Iran’s mines and mineral industries did not exceed $50 billion,” Bahram Shakouri was also quoted as saying by ILNA.
The official added that absorbing this amount of Chinese investments can generate numerous jobs and expand the country’s production and exports.
“This can also affect developments in other fields such as infrastructures, transportation and ports,” he said.
In March, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi signed the Iran-China comprehensive cooperation document in a meeting in Tehran on March 27, IRNA reported.
The cooperation document was first discussed in 2015, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran.
In addition to his Iranian counterpart, Wang met Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Ali Larijani, advisor to Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Wang and Zarif held consultations on bilateral and international issues and explored long-term cooperation and implementation of comprehensive strategic partnership in the meeting.
“Relations between the two countries have now reached the level of strategic partnership and China seeks to comprehensively improve relations with Iran,” Wang was quoted as telling Zarif.
“Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic,” Wang said ahead of the televised signing ceremony.
Larijani said in his meeting with the Chinese FM: “Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call.”
The accord brings Iran into China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe, according to Reuters.
The project aims to significantly expand China’s economic and political influence, and has raised concerns in the United States.
China has spoken out often against US sanctions on Iran and partly contested them. Zarif called it “a friend for hard times”.
The agreement includes Chinese investments in sectors such as energy and infrastructure.
Rouhani expressed appreciation of Beijing’s support for Iran’s position on its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, wherein it agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
“Cooperation between the two countries is very important for the implementation of the nuclear accord and the fulfilment of obligations by European countries,” Rouhani said.
US President Joe Biden has sought to revive talks with Iran on the nuclear deal abandoned in 2018 by his predecessor, Donald Trump, in 2018. Tehran seeks the removal of sanctions that Trump imposed before any negotiations resume.
“Under the new administration, the Americans want to reconsider their policy and return to the nuclear accord, and China welcomes their move,” Wang said.
He also promised that China would provide more coronavirus vaccines to Iran, the Middle Eastern country worst-hit by the pandemic.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the agreement was a “roadmap” for trade, economic and transportation cooperation, with a special focus on both countries’ private sectors.
According to the American Enterprise Institute, China invested $26.92 billion in Iran from 2005 to 2019.
Of the total investment, $1.53 billion were made in chemical industries, $11.1 billion in energy, $4.96 billion in metals, $160 million in real estate, $6.92 billion in transport and $2.25 billion in utilities.
The value of China’s overseas investment and construction combined since 2005 exceeds $2 trillion.
Iran-China trade has fallen recently due to the outbreak of coronavirus. However, the two sides are taking all necessary measures to boost their trade turnover back to its pre-corona levels.