May 7, 2015
The heads of Iran and Algeria chambers of commerce, Gholam-Hossein Shafei and Mohamed Laid Benamor held talks on Tuesday as part of Iran-Algeria Trade Forum organized by Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), with focus on the expansion of economic relations.
Noting that expansion of economic relations with the Muslim-majority countries is a top priority for the Iranian government, Shafei expressed dissatisfaction over the current insignificant level of Tehran-Algiers bilateral trade.
While observing that political relations between Iran and Algeria stand at a desirable level, he lamented that economic relations do not enjoy similar status.
He said Algeria could act as Iran’s gateway to African and even European markets and urged the Algeria chamber of commerce to establish Iran-Algeria joint trade council in Algiers, similar to the council established by Iran chamber of commerce.
Shafei called for closer cooperation between the two countries’ chambers of commerce for exchange of trade delegations and introducing business opportunities in both countries.
The official mentioned oil, gas, petrochemicals, mining, food industry, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure development and construction of roads, bridges, airports and mosques as some possible areas for collaboration.
Meager Annual Trade
Mohamed Laid Benamor, for his part, called for boosting trade and economic cooperation, noting that trade between Iran and Algeria amounted to a meager $7 million in 2014, of which 97% was contributed by Algeria’s imports.
He pointed out similarities in Iran’s and Algeria’s economic structures, observing that both economies have relied on revenues from oil exports, albeit to different extents. He also indicated that both countries enjoy political stability.
Noting that trade between the two countries stood at merely $3.2 million during the first quarter of 2015, he urged the two countries’ businesspeople and chambers of commerce to “intensify their efforts to prepare the ground for dynamic economic relations with focus on industrial cooperation.”
He invited Iranian companies to participate in joint ventures in areas of agriculture and food processing, noting that these industries are regarded as the fastest growing sectors in Algeria.
He also drew attention to Algeria’s lucrative and promising automotive market, pointing that Algeria imports about 400,000 to 500,000 vehicles worth $5 billion annually, and called on the Iranian companies to take part in joint projects with the Algerian companies.
Pharmaceutical industry, construction, tourism and general services were mentioned by Benamor as other suitable investment areas in Algeria, adding: “The Algerian government offers generous incentives to foreign investors, including leasing farmlands, 10-year tax exemptions, low-interest loans, cheap energy and easy access to water.”
Export of Technical, Engineering Services
In a separate meeting between Mohamed Laid Benamor, and Iran’s Minster of Roads and Urban Development, Abbas-Ahmad Akhundi on Tuesday, the latter expressed Iran’s readiness for export of technical and engineering services to Algeria.
“The ministry of roads and urban development is prepared to export technical and engineering services to Algeria. To this effect, we have invited the Algerian minister of housing and urban development to Iran for further discussions,” said Akhundi, adding that the date for the minister’s visit will soon be announced by Algerian officials.
Akhundi also called on the Algerian authorities to ease visa regulations for the Iranian businesspeople in order to facilitate closer trade relations.
Benamor expressed satisfaction over the two countries’ eagerness to expand economic ties and invited the Iranian business-owners and traders to visit Algeria in order to become familiar with potential avenues for cooperation.
He applauded Iran’s scientific achievements in agricultural research and underlined the vast opportunities for investment in Algeria’s agricultural sector.
Speaking at the meeting, the Algerian ambassador to Tehran, Ahriz Abdelmoun’aam, expressed willingness on the part of the Algerian prime minister – as president of Iran-Algeria High Joint Commission – to hold the joint commission in the coming months. The joint commission is presided by Akhundi on Iran’s part.
The first session of the High Joint Commission, presided by the prime minister of Algeria and the first vice-president of the Islamic Republic of Iran was held in November 2010 in Tehran, with the aim of identifying new areas to strengthen the cooperation and diversify the economic exchanges.
Source: Financial Tribune