US carpet traders to visit Iran
Domestic Economy Desk
A group of American journalists and carpet traders will travel to Iran in the current Iranian year (started March 21), said the head of National Carpet Center (NCC).
Hamid Kargar added that some members of this group will visit Iran during Aug. 23-Sept. 22.
He said at present, a high percentage of Iranian hand-woven carpets are reexported to the US via Pakistan, Mehr News Agency reported.
“Unfortunately, in the past few years, particularly the last two years, the country’s carpet exports had declined. It was mainly due to the sanctions imposed by US President Barack Obama four years ago.
This prevented American companies from importing Iranian carpets, which reduced Iran’s carpet exports by one fourth,” he said.
The NCC chief listed other reasons as the growth in transportation and insurance costs, lack of export incentives, the inability of carpet weavers to cater to new international tastes and the fact that some of the traditional markets for Iranian carpets, including Germany, have become saturated.
Last year, Iran carpet exports dropped to $114 million, which was unprecedented in the past decade.
Kargar noted that Iran’s foreign political relations are improving and carpet exports will increase through exhibitions held in other countries.
The country has exported 914 tons of carpets worth $46.46 million in the first quarter of the current year, indicating a 23.7-percent growth in terms of value compared with the corresponding figure of last year, which was $37.55 million.
“After the US stopped importing Iranian carpets, other countries, including Pakistan, replaced it. Currently, the country ranks second in importing Iranian carpets,” he said.
Kargar noted that although China is one of the main producers of hand-woven carpets, it is the fifth major importer of Iranian carpets.
“In the past few months, Beijing imported 19 tons of Iranian carpets valued at more than $3 million,” he said.
The official listed other major customers of Iranian carpets as South Africa, Australia and Russia.
Kargar hoped that carpet exports will exceed $400 million by the yearend.
Iran, Russia sign wide-ranging MoU
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh announced that Tehran and Moscow have signed a memorandum of understanding on economic, trade and banking ties.
Zanganeh talked to reporters after meeting Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Wednesday, IRNA reported.
“I had good negotiations with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak as the head of Iran-Russia Economic Commission,” he said.
Zanganeh noted that economic and trade cooperation between Iran and Russia is at a low level and said the Iranian and Russian presidents have emphasize expansion of economic cooperation between Iran and Russia as an important strategy.
“As the Iranian head of Iran-Russia Economic Commission, I emphasized on the expansion of trade and economic cooperation with Russia,” he said.
Zanganeh stressed that the banking MoU between Iran and Russia is an important document and called for its implementation.
In the past few years, Iran and Russia have had vast cooperation in different fields, especially in political and economic spheres.
The two states also have common stances on the international scene and have had constant and regular consultations on key regional and global issues.
Tehran, Ashgabat to expand comprehensive ties
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Turkmen counterpart Batir Berdiyev emphasized expansion of bilateral cooperation in various domains.
The two ministers met in Muscat on Wednesday on the sidelines of a joint meeting with the foreign ministers of Oman and Uzbekistan for facilitating the transit of goods from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf.
Zarif and Bardiyev also discussed cooperation related to extradition of prisoners, transit of goods, railroad transportation, better linkage facilities and development of border regions, IRNA reported.
The Iranian minister is also slated to hold bilateral meetings with the Omani officials.
Iran and Oman, which share the control of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, maintain cordial relations.
The meeting in Muscat aims to inaugurate the North-South Corridor, which will facilitate the transportation of goods from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf.
The foreign ministers of Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Oman have signed an agreement on transportation and transit of goods by railroad, sea and land.
Iran welcomes Azerbaijani investors
An official from Iran’s Economy Ministry has welcomed Azerbaijani investors in oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.
“Iran’s mining sector, particularly iron ore and copper as well as the country’s metallurgy industry, provides a big opportunity for Azerbaijani investors,” Sadeq Akbari, director general for economic relations at the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance, told Trend News Agency on Wednesday.
The official stressed that Iran’s agriculture and tourism sectors are also ready to accept Azerbaijan’s investments. Akbari, who is in Baku for the ninth meeting of the Iran-Azerbaijan Economic Commission, noted that the two countries agreed to cooperate in the fields of investment, trade and industry.
The officials of Iran and Azerbaijan discussed exchange of information and experiences, as well as introduction of investment opportunities.
Akbari noted that the two neighboring countries also agreed on cooperation between their investment agencies.
Iran and Azerbaijan called for holding economic conferences and fairs for introducing the two countries’ investment opportunities.
“The two sides have finalized a memorandum of understanding on the issue which will be signed soon,” he added.
Commenting on Azerbaijan’s investment opportunities, Akbari said the country has huge investment capacities, particularly in the housing and agriculture sectors.
Akbari also said the two sides should help their private sector investors to review the opportunities and make decision on the issue.
The massive offshore South Pars Gas Field’s production is expected to increase by 200 million cubic meters per day (mcm/d) by March 2016, a deputy oil minister said.
“Oil Ministry is making efforts to boost gas production from South Pars by 200 mcm/d by the end of the next Iranian year (March 20, 2016),” Emad Hosseini was quoted as saying by Shana.
South Pars covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which are in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers are situated in Qatar’s territorial waters. The gas field is estimated to contain a significant amount of natural gas, accounting for about eight percent of the world’s reserves, and approximately 18 billion barrels of condensates.
Iran Small Industries and Industrial Parks Organization (ISIPO) extended more than $1.43 million worth of facilities to Tehran province’s small and medium industrial units in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2014).
Iran’s red gold under threat
By Iman Mehdizadeh
Iran is a major producer of saffron in the world.
Although some countries, including Spain, Afghanistan and China, supply saffron to the global market, eastern Iran is considered the biggest producer of the precious spice.
Saffron, known as red gold, has high nutritional value, but is also used in pharmaceutical, hygienic and cosmetic industries.
Lack of adequate support, high customs duty imposed on saffron export and absence of efficient packaging industries have led the farmers of eastern and southeastern Iran to sell saffron bulbs to Afghan cultivators.
The move may generate significant profit for them in the short run, but will help Afghan farmers leave Iranian saffron growers behind and capture a share of the international market in the long run.
The absence of a comprehensive plan for improving saffron cultivation and processing has caused foreign investors to focus on saffron produced in Afghanistan.
In a bid to fight drug addition, the international community has encouraged Afghan farmers to grow saffron instead of opium poppy, which increased the country’s area under saffron cultivation.
Saffron should be kept in a cool and dry place. Thus, improvement of packaging industries is a prerequisite for exporting saffron.
In fact, lack of an efficient packaging industry in Iran has also caused Spain to purchase Iranian saffron in bulk and sell them as Spanish saffron. As a result, the profit made by Iranian producers is meager compared to that earned by Spanish traders.
Another problem is that Iranian saffron brands are not well-known in international markets.
Fortunately, Iran recently abolished custom duties on saffron export and this is expected to motivate saffron producers and exporters.
Efforts should be made to increase the awareness of foreign investors about the trade potential of Iranian saffron. This will encourage them to establish processing and packaging industries in Iran.
Any failure in the establishment of such industries will help Afghan saffron output overtake Iran and encourage international traders to market Iranian saffron as Spanish, Japanese and Afghan saffron.
Iran is expected to launch its first gas to liquids (GTL) plant in four years, the head of the Gas Research Center of the Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI) said.
Akbar Zamanian added that the institute launched studies on the construction of GTL plant a few months ago, adding that the related contract was signed between RIPI and an Iranian company, Shana reported.
“The plant will be constructed in Qeshm with a daily capacity of 3,000 barrels. Its designing will take 12 months,” he said.
The official added that the plant’s construction is estimated to take three years after the completion of designing.
Zamanian said the GTL plant would produce kerosene, diesel, gasoline and industrial oil.
“Using natural gas at the GTL plant would boost the quality of products and reduce air pollution,” he said.
Gas to liquids is a refining process to convert natural gas or other gaseous hydrocarbons into longer-chain hydrocarbons such as gasoline or diesel fuel.
Methane-rich gases are converted into liquid synthetic fuels either via direct conversion—using non-catalytic processes that convert methane to methanol in one step—or via syngas as an intermediate in several steps.
Economic relations with Belarus desirable
Domestic Economy Desk
Economic relations between Iran and Belarus have reached a desirable level.
Valiollah Afkhamirad, the head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPOI), made the remark while coordinating the next meeting of Iran-Belarus Economic Commission and asked for implementation of trade agreements between Tehran and Minsk.
He added that the Central Bank of Iran agreed to use Belarus’s resources, pay Belavia Airlines, continue Belavia’s flights to Iran and start architectural cooperation.
Afkhamirad also said the first cargo of nuts will be sent to Belarus in the next two months, adding that Belarus is ready to hold exhibitions of furniture, energy, foodstuff and packaging in Iran.
TPOI proposed that the 12th meeting of the commission will be held on September 27-28.
Iran and Belarus have developed good relations in recent years, particularly in the economic and trade sectors, and have signed a number of agreements to shore up bilateral cooperation.