Iran, Belgium ink trade coop. agreement

TEHRAN, Oct. 30 (MNA) – Deputy Iranian Commerce Minister Mojtaba Khosrotaj and Minister-President of Belgium’s Flanders Geert Bourgeois signed an MoU for bilateral cooperation.

Speaking at the MoU-signing ceremony, Mojtaba Khosrotaj, who also heads Iran’s Trade Development Organization, said Iran holds a strong determination for advancement and is no longer the country who merely relied on oil revenues as our oil budget has fell below 30 per cent.

He outlined movement towards non-oil economy as a policy with high priority adding “in 2015, Iranian businessmen hit the record of 120 billion dollars in goods trade as well as three billion dollars in trade of services which gives an aggregate total of approximately 160 billion dollars in goods, services and oil.”

The official touched upon age-old relations between the two countries saying “we welcome firms who are after ties with Iran since the country has always backed development of relations as a method of advancement.”

“We prefer business activities and collaborations in which all people are involved,” noted the Khosrotaj adding “given that Belgium ranks second in elementary education suggesting the amount of importance the country attaches to science and knowledge, Iran supports all collaborations which rely on technical knowledge.

He went on to voice Iran’s determination to boost efficiency despite years of war and sanctions; “reduction of costs and promotion of competitive markets are influential factors in opening room for higher efficiency.”

“Belgium enjoys strong infrastructure especially in transport areas; “Iran’s main priorities for cooperation include development of ports, expressways, terminals as well as the country’s logistics inside the region.”

Iran’s TPO managing director brought up the issue of foreign investment saying “in case safe investment environments are provided in Iran, foreign investors will flood the country.”

Deputy commerce minister outlined gas, power and petrochemicals as priority industries for export purposes underlining “Belgium hosts numerous oil and gas companies who all rely on the Belgian industry.”

Khosrotaj further expressed dissatisfaction towards the volume of trade turnover between Iran and Belgium and said “the present trade volume resides between 350 to 450 million dollars while the figure amounted to more than one billion dollars in past.”

At the end of his remarks, the Iranian official expressed hope that both parties will deepen bilateral ties in scientific, technological, investment and infrastructure sectors.

Also at the joint session, Minister-President of Belgium’s Flanders Geert Bourgeois said his government is after opening a trade bureau in Tehran aiming to promote economic relations.

“Belgium remains as a reliable trade partner for Iran and we have inked several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) all over the world,” stressed the official.

He further referred to the important role played by Belgian companies in service and production at an international level commenting “these services are offered by small and medium-sized firms who are the backbone of the European country.”

Bourgeois said Belgium’s business environment offers an excellent opportunity to Iranian firms, “Flanders marks Iran’s gateway to European markets.”

“Iran’s good relations with Belgium were interrupted as a result of international sanctions though we are after reinvigoration of ties,” he continued.

The official also recalled that Iranian ships returned to Belgian ports in March following years of hiatus; “an MoU has also been signed between Port of Antwerp in Belgium and Iran’s Shahid Rajaee Port.”

HA/3809835/3809872

News Code 120931

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