TEHRAN, May 10 (Mehr News Agency) -- China is Iran's leading trade partner in Asia, but both countries still seek to expand their economic relations, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday.
"China is currently Iran's main economic partner in Asia and also Iran's third leading trade partner in the world," he said at the Iran-China trade cooperation conference in Tehran.
Mottaki noted that the level of trade between the two countries increased from $400 million in 1994 to $29 billion in 2008 and said this shows Tehran-Beijing economic relations have grown at an average annual rate of 40 percent over the past few years.
The economic power of countries is the most important factor in all regional and international equations, and China, with the world's fourth strongest economy and total foreign trade exchanges of $2 trillion in 2008, has a very significant role, he added.
He went on to say that Iran's position in the manufacturing sector and its substantial share of the energy market as well as the recognition of Iran's markets and its growing industrial centers have made the country a regional power.
However, Iran and China have yet to fully exploit their economic potential in various spheres, he said.
"Iran's trade with China must be improved, and this objective will not be achieved without the assistance of the non-governmental sector," the Iranian foreign minister pointed out.
Mottaki said that a number of steps must be taken to improve Iran-China trade relations, such as signing customs agreements, coordinating the two countries' import-export regulations, removing financial and banking obstacles, and establishing legal arbitration boards.
Meanwhile, the Chinese ambassador to Tehran, Xie Xiaoyan, said here on Sunday that Beijing is determined to expand its trade with Tehran.
"The Chinese Embassy in Tehran will continue working with Iranian companies in order to expand cooperation between the two countries," he said at the Iran-China trade cooperation conference.
The Iranian ambassador to Beijing, Javad Mansouri, said Iran and China are expanding their bilateral relations.
Senior Chinese officials have been actively involved in expanding relations with Tehran, and this has paved the way for great achievements, he added.
"There are currently many opportunities in education, research, technology, trade, and joint investment for businessmen from both sides," Mansouri stated.
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