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Huge capacity to expand UK-Iran trade, says Iranian Minister of Industries and Mines

ondon, Nov 17, IRNA - Iran's Minister of Industries and Mines Es'haq Jahangiri Wednesday called for an expansion and diversification in the mutually beneficial trading relations between the UK and Iran.

"Our bilateral relations, especially the mix and volume of bilateral trade, clearly demonstrate that the existing capacities have not been fully utilized and there is still much room for further expansion," Jahangiri said.

Speaking in a keynote address at a London conference on 'Fueling Economic Growth in Iran,' he said that the trading relations of both countries have the "potential and the possibility for further expansion."

"Parallel to our commercial relationships, we need to work together to expand out economic cooperation in mining and manufacturing sectors to give greater depth," the minister told the assembled delegates.

The conference, supported by the British government's Trade and Investment department, was boosted by an EU deal on Iran's nuclear program that paves the way for the resumption for negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Jahangiri said that there were "many opportunities" for British businesses in the renovation and modernization of Iranian industries.

This included exploration, mining, the food and pharmaceutical sectors, construction, the manufacture of automobile parts, the electrical and electronic industries as well as the oil and petrochemical sectors.

The industries and mines minister cited that Iran had iron deposits of over 3 billion tons of which 18 million were extracted last year. He said there were also proven copper deposits of the same magnitude of which 15 million tons were mined last year.

The country's mineral wealth, in addition to oil and gas, also included chromate, lead, zinc, coal, gold, tin, manganese, ferrous oxide and tungsten, he told the conference.

"In short, there are vast areas in the mining sector of Iran for commercial activities and we are confident investments in prospecting and extraction will be economically viable propositions," he said.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the Anglo-Irish Persian Gold company had secured a one year license to exploit for gold near the town of Takestan in north-west Iran. Investors were reported to have raised Dlrs 540,000 to fund the first phase of the project.

Apart from being the most stable country in the region, Jahangiri said that Iran also had the advantage of an "abundance of skilled human resources, especially engineers and educated experts."

"Access to this large pool of skilled and educated human resources at fully competitive costs is a substantial advantage," he said.

The minister said that above and beyond this was the geo-economic situation of Iran, which is located en route to Central Asia and the Caucasus with transit roads and active ports in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea in the south and the Caspian Sea in the north.

"At the present time, the conditions are right for cooperation between Iranian and British companies for projects in the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, the Caucuses, Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.

Outside the oil and gas sector, 52 investment projects totaling dlrs 2.1 billion were countered by the country's Law on Attraction and Protection of Foreign Investment last year.

Jahangiri said that of these, 45 projects worth dlrs 1.96 bn were in the industry and mining sector. A further 15 of 19 investment projects approved in the first half of the Iranian year, starting March 21, were also in the industry and mining sector, he said.

With regard to the automotive industry, he said that Iran will produce one million vehicles this year and that this huge capacity presented further opportunities for direct foreign and domestic investment in the manufacture of parts and components.

The potential of Iran was also underlined by the start of the country's ambitious Fourth development Plan next year, which foresees 8 percent annual increases in GDP.

"To realize this growth rate, investment in Iran must increase on average by 12.2 percent annually," the minister said in drawing attention to the opportunities available.

... Payvand News - 11/17/04 ... --

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