Brussels, April 7, IRNA-The Minster-President of the Wallonia region of Belgium, Mr Jean-Claude van Cauwenberghe, is leading a big trade delegation to the Islamic Republic to promote bilateral trade and economic ties and cooperation.
Representatives of 19 companies from Wallonia and Brussels are accompanying the Minister-President on his 5-day mission to Iran starting on Saturday April 9.
Mr. Cauwenberghe's visit is considered to be the first high ranking visit to Iran from Belgium since the trip of ex-Belgian foreign minister Louis Michel to Tehran in March 2004, noted a press release issued by the press office of the Walloon government.
The trade mission is organized by the Walloon Export Agency (AWEX), in cooperation with the Brussels-Export, Agoria Wallonia, Union of Wallonia Enterprise and the Economic Bureau of the province of Namur.
Exports to Iran from Wallonia in 2003 totaled 46.9 million euro.
In the first nine months of 2004, exports from Wallonia to the Islamic Republic were valued at 51.7 mn euro, representing an increase of 48% in comparison to the first nine months of 2003.
Export items included metals, machinery equipment, industrial chemical and plastic products.
Imports from Iran to Wallonia in 2003 totalled 3.47 million euro and during the first nine months of 2004 the figures are 3.5 million euro.
During its stay in Iran, the Belgian delegation will attend an international industry, oil and gas fair and also visit the Industrial and Mineral Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) of Iran and the Mobarrakeh Steel Company in Isfahan.
The Belgian mission will sign an economic and trade agreement between Wallonia and the Belgo-Iran Chamber of Commerce and also with the Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Iran with a population of 70 million is opening up its market to the West, noted the press release.
"This openness policy will have interesting economic repercussion for the future," it said.
Moreover, the growing relations between the EU and Iran, especially with Italy, France and Germany, will assure big credits to Tehran, it said.
Iran has the know-how and the necessary funds for its development projects, said the press release.
Wallonia is the predominantly French-speaking region that constitutes one of the three federal regions of Belgium, with its capital at Namur.
It encompasses the southern half of Belgium with a population of 3.35 million out of a total population of 10 million of the country.
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