New Delhi, April 18, IRNA - Indian companies could invest up to Rs 1,500 crores in Iran's energy, steel and aluminum sectors, Iranian diplomatic sources said. Tata group was planning to build a steel plant and another Indian company was interested in setting up an oil refinery.
It has also been 'agreed in principle' that an aluminum- manufacturing factory would be built in Iran in collaboration with an Indian company, Asian Age reported here on Wednesday quoting Iranian diplomatic sources.
A spokesman for Tata Steel confirmed that talks were on for expanding the group's business in Iran.
The company has signed an MOU with the Persian Gulf Special Economic Zone for land and other infrastructure facilities in the special economic zone at Bandar Abbas.
The surge by Indian companies into the Iranian market comes at a time when American multinational Halliburton, which was once headed by US vice president Dick Cheney, has announced its exit from Iran to scotch speculation that it had moved its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai so that it could quietly expand its business in Iran.
An Iranian diplomatic source said that the president of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines, Ali Naqi Khamoushi, was recently in India to attract investors.
Khamoushi, who held discussions with representatives of National Aluminum Company Ltd (Nalco), the Tatas and certain other companies, has said that his meetings in India suggested there was ample scope for bilateral cooperation.
Another Iranian diplomatic source said that Iran's private sector was moving away from the West and turning to India and other countries in the East for investment and cooperation.
The absence of political tension between Iran and India helped, the source added. Iran has accordingly mooted an 'economic bloc' with India and certain other countries in the region.
Iran, however, could become the next theater of power play between New Delhi and Beijing, as India steps up its dealings with that country in economic sphere.
A retired diplomat, M K Bhadrakumar, said Iran was keen on fostering relations with the East and India must step up its business ties with Iran.
"(It) is the conscious political disposition (of Iran) to foster economic relations with the East and we must make use of this opportunity," he said.
"We are miles behind China. China was wise enough to take advantage of the corridor of time. The Chinese helped to build the metro and other infrastructure projects in Iran. There is enormous traffic (between Iran and China). Malaysia, South Korea and Japan are also involved. It is a fallacy to think that the Iranian economy is at a standstill because of the Americans ... It is a vibrant economy. It has a stabilization fund worth about dlrs 40 billion and half of its oil money is kept aside for investment," he said.
Bhadrakumar explained that the constitutional reforms undertaken during the tenure of former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami had allowed privatization, and since then the Iranian state has been gradually vacating the economic sphere to enable private investment from outside to collaborate with the Iranian private sector.
... Payvand News - 4/19/07 ... --