HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam and Iran have maintained close diplomatic relations, however, trade relations are not commensurate with the potential of the two countries, said the chairman of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vũ Tiến Lộc, at the Iran-Việt Nam Business Forum held in Hà Nội on Thursday.
The first meeting of this newly created forum hosted a delegation of 19 Iranian business representatives, along with Vietnamese company representatives.
In 2016, bilateral trade turnover between these two nations reached US$116.9 million, of which Việt Nam exported $86.8 million to Iran and imported $30.1 million.
“The trade records have yet to reflect the two countries’ economic capacity as Iran is one of the biggest markets in the Middle East while Việt Nam is the doorway to the Southeast Asia region,” Lộc added.
Việt Nam is strong in exporting products such as footwear, textile and garment, fruits, rubber, coffee, rice, pepper, while Iran could provide Việt Nam with energy sources, petrochemical and mining products. The leaders of the two countries agreed last year to boost bilateral trade to $2 billion by 2021.
In addition to trade co-operation, tourism development is also a potential growth field, which could serve as a basis for expanding ties between the two countries.
Dr. Glolam Hossein Shafei, head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), said that being one of the largest oil reserve countries in the world, Iran could supply Việt Nam with products such as petrochemicals, bitumen, polymers, base oils, building materials and minerals. Already, Iran exports a large quantity of bitumen and polymer beads to Việt Nam.
“Việt Nam can be a bridge connecting Iranian products to Southeast Asian countries, and vice versa, Iran will be a gateway for Việt Nam’s goods to reach the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe,” said Gloham.
Sharing experience in doing business in Iran, chairman of An Việt International Operation Investment Joint Stock Company, Trần Văn Trí, told Việt Nam News that Iran was a prospective market for Vietnamese investments. At the beginning, Trí planned to export seafood products to Iran. However, after visiting Iran twice to conduct market research, he opted for the opposite idea – establishing a company in Iran to export fish to Việt Nam.
“Iran’s Government adopted a number of preferential policies allowing me to open a company there, such as corporate and personal tax exemption for 20 years. However, one of the biggest challenges for foreign enterprises in Iran is the payment methods. Iran is under financial sanctions by the US, and enterprises have to process payment via intermediary banks in third economies such as Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore,” Trí said.
“Every year, Việt Nam imports around 500,000 tonnes of bitumen from countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand. Iran is very famous for bitumen with the best quality and competitive price, however, not many Vietnamese firms approach our market due to the long shipment duration. We are seeking a Vietnamese partner to open a bitumen agency in Việt Nam to bring Iranian bitumen closer to Việt Nam’s customers,” Iran’s ACE Oil Company’s commercial manager Mohammad Ghaffari told Việt Nam News.
The forum was held in keeping with a promise made last October by the ICCIMA chairman to bring a delegation of enterprises to Việt Nam.
The seminar was designed to promote trade co-operation and friendship between Việt Nam and Iran, while creating investment opportunities for participating enterprises.
US$2 billion trade target
Vietnamese and Iranian leaders have pledged support for their businesses to achieve trade valued at US$2 billion, President Trần Đại Quang told the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines and Agriculture of Iran, Gholam Hossein Shafei, during a reception in Hà Nội on Thursday.
The State leader said both sides agreed to boost trade and investment in oil and gas, telecommunications, agriculture and fisheries, adding that Việt Nam could export quality products to Iran at competitive prices, such as rice, tea, coffee, cashew nut, pepper, rubber, motorbike and bicycle spare parts.
The Vietnamese State encourages domestic firms to invest in Iran, and also encourages Vietnamese banks to sign co-operation agreements with Iranian counterparts to enable smooth payment, he said.
According to Shafei, two-way trade has grown 22 per cent following high-level mutual visits in 2016. Both sides plan to establish Chambers of Commerce and Industry, with offices to be inaugurated in the two nations next March.
Source: Vietnam News
Photo: Nhan Sang