Iran wants to develop our economic and trade relations beyond energy and petrochemicals: Iranian envoy

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Amid the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, Iran has already declared its readiness to help India meet its energy security needs. Reports say talks are underway between the countries to start importing rough from there and payment mechanisms are also being worked out. Even as Western powers are negotiating the lifting of sanctions on Tehran, Iran, India and Iran had already set up a barter-like mechanism for trade.

In an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to India, Dr. Ali Chegeni shares updates on various issues with Huma Siddiqui.

Here are excerpts

It has been reported that Iran is considering initiating the rupee-rial trade method. And there was a team from Tehran to discuss the terms.

The two countries have already built the Rupee-Rial mechanism to facilitate trade between them. It is therefore not a new arrangement and we are no strangers to this mechanism. Indeed, we seek to diversify our payment channels and therefore wish to extend and widen an already existing mechanism in order to cover all goods and services including all non-oil goods and to achieve this, our managers at different levels are in touch.

Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to India, Dr. Ali Chegeni

For the past couple of years, due to Covid restrictions, we have been pursuing the issue through virtual dialogues and currently our officials including the Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs and the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization are following the issue through exchanges of delegations.

Is Iran ready to export crude oil to India? On this subject, have there been discussions between the two countries?

Iran has always been a reliable energy partner for its customers and is ready to resume normal exports of its oil, gas and petrochemical products to international markets. For India, Iran was also a major oil exporter until the imposition of illegal, brutal and unilateral sanctions.

In the current situation and after the recent events that have had impacts on the oil and gas market, and now the intense increase in world oil prices, countries like India urgently need to diversify suppliers, and without a doubt, Iran can play an important role in meeting some of the needs and demands of the global market.

It should be noted that the export of Iranian oil has never been interrupted and we are still selling our oil to customers. More importantly, the current oil supply shortages make Iranian oil even more indispensable than before. Indian companies in the public or private sectors are also fully aware of Iran’s capabilities and preparedness in this regard and, of course, it is up to them to take the necessary steps.

We want to develop our economic and trade relations beyond energy and petrochemicals. Since due to the complementarity of the economies of Iran and India, a wide range of non-oil trade exists between the two sides, including trade in goods and services, investment, tourism , education and… which could open the way to multiplying our economic relations tenfold. than the current relations in the medium and long term.

It should be noted that Iran, as an old friend of India, has never participated in any sanctions against it and therefore the least reasonable expectation of the Iranian people is to see the same act of the from his Indian friends.

What is the update on Chabahar port and railway line that was in discussion with India?

Let me start by answering the second part of your question. Over 70% of the Chabahar – Zahedan railway has been completed and is ready for use. The remaining part has been further advanced by the Iranian authorities and will certainly be completed soon with or without the other’s participation. However, we would prefer to complete this project with the close association of our Indian friends, particularly in the development of superstructure equipment.

On the Port of Chabahar, first of all, I must point out the great scale of the recent developments as such, we cannot consider Chabahar only as a port and it is better to name it an “area” in order to consider its vastness. and large integrated facilities. inside.

Moreover, the port of Chabahar is not limited to itself and indeed constitutes a small but of course important part of the INSTC which connects the landlocked countries of the Caucasus, Eurasia, Central Asia and South Asia to the Indian Ocean. In this regard, various countries have announced their willingness to cooperate with Iran to develop this project and, in fact, Iran has started its collaboration with several countries such as Russia and Azerbaijan.

Two major ports of Chabahar i.e. Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Kalantari have been commissioned and IPGL Company of India is installing superstructures in Shahid Beheshti shipyard and ships actually use the two ports to load and unload their convoys. In this respect, we have witnessed the significant multiplication of transport capacities over the past 3 years. By these potentials and abilities, we are sure that Chabahar will be much more active and operational than before.

Recently, the Indian government has appointed a new active team for IPGL in the Shahid Beheshti port of Chabahar, which is a good signal to promote the activities and the quality of services of the said company in its functions.

Despite these great achievements, the leaders of both countries expect us to accelerate our efforts and therefore we must accelerate our activities to end the project as soon as possible, especially in an emergency situation in which we are witnessing rapid regional and global changes.

For example, the line of credit which has been promised by India for the financing of Chabahar-related projects has not yet been fully realised. Naturally By preparing the mentioned infrastructure in the near future, the Indian friends can contribute to the development of the railway by providing the required superstructure equipment.

In this regard, the exchange visits of various high-ranking officials and delegations of the two countries will be an excellent opportunity to find ways to accelerate the process of cooperation as well as promote the use of this “Golden bridge“ for both countries and the region.

In the health and pharmaceutical sector, are there plans to seek cooperation with India?

The precedence of our cooperations dates back to ancient times when we had a great exchange of ideas and science on traditional medicine. Currently, we expect to sign two important memorandums of understanding on cooperation in the health sector in the coming weeks. One of these documents is focused on the cooperation in the field of traditional medicines between the research centers of two countries and the other is related to the cooperation in normal medicine between the authorities of standardization of medicines and the competent regulatory bodies. of the two countries, which will pave the way for the removal of certain non-tariff barriers in the trade of medicines.

The narcotics were transiting to India via ports in Iran – this was recently discussed in New Delhi. Can you share how Iran plans to solve this problem?

Iran has been and still is at the forefront of the fight against drug trafficking in West and Southwest Asia. On the other hand, Iran has unfortunately been one of the main victims of this dirty and illegal trade and it has dedicated too many martyrs and incurred enormous costs in its sacred fight against international smugglers. But unfortunately, some media do not take into account Iran’s important role and sacrifices in the fight against narcotics trafficking and instead disseminate distorted information and baseless allegations.

However, I must point out that drug trafficking knows no nationality or border and that traffickers can use any territory and direction to smuggle their narcotics.

Having said this and noting that drug trafficking as a global problem requires joint and collective efforts, there is a need to address this phenomenon through genuine cooperation and sincere partnership among all forces of the region. Traffickers have no respect for humanity, national territories or their victim countries.

The anti-narcotics police forces in India and Iran have made huge sacrifices. They have also initiated commendable dialogue and cooperation which we hope will soon form a solid basis for deeper dialogue and cooperation at the regional level.

Recently, Iran and India held very fruitful meetings. Both parties agree on the main issues and we will see a more coherent and consolidated cooperation in the fight against this dirty phenomenon.

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