India-Iran trade has tremendous potential: Envoy

NEW DELHI: Emphasising the existence of a huge potential for growth of India-Iran bilateral trade, Tehran awaits moves by the Indian side, including private investments in the country, after a downturn in oil imports by New Delhi following the US sanctions.

editorial@tribune.com

KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 9

Emphasising the existence of a huge potential for growth of India-Iran bilateral trade, Tehran awaits moves by the Indian side, including private investments in the country, after a downturn in oil imports by New Delhi following the US sanctions.

“India has stopped purchasing our oil, following its national interest and we respect it,” Iranian Ambassador Ali Chengeni said. Loss of revenue on account of oil trade, notwithstanding, the Ambassador said bilateral trade that stood at $13.7 billion is currently at $18 billion with Iran ramping up its purchase of soya and basmati from India.

“We used to import 50,000 tonnes from India and now it is 3.5 lakh tonnes. We have diverted our purchases from countries in Latin America and procured 1.6 million tonnes of basmati… There is a capacity to promote trade to $50 billion,” Dr Chengeni said during an interaction with members of Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents here.

He said Iran has a huge appetite for steel and the country produces 31 million tonnes which is not enough to meet its development activity. It needs an equal amount through imports.

Similarly, tea and fresh fruits were other areas where India could step in. In return, India could import urea, cotton and marble. He said Iranian marble was being sourced by others and better than the well-known Italian variety. Even cotton, India was paying around 40 per cent more through intermediaries.

On a query how the things were shaping up on th Chabahar port and connectivity project’s front, the Ambassador said while India was continuing its work there, the pace was slow and the project could do well by speeding it up. It was a major regional initiative by India to ensure connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia, skipping Pakistan. India recently slashed the budget for the port while maintaining it had sights on its strategic value.

On reports that Iran has begun injecting uranium gas into centrifuges, he said Tehran was committed to Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but it had not got its right due from Europe. If Europe, he said, can come back and complete its commitment, Iran can step back.

‘Respect decision not to purchase oil’

India has stopped purchasing our oil, following its national interest and we respect it… Bilateral trade that stood at $13.7 billion is currently at $18 billion… There is a capacity to promote trade to $50 billion.  — Ali Chengeni, Iranian Ambassador

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