In 1970, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Mines (ICCIM) was formed by the merger of the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Industries and Mines. ICCIM executive bylaw was approved the following year. According to the bylaw, the main objectives and functions of ICCIM are as follows:
* Cooperation with governmental institutions, state-affiliated and/or controlled organizations and municipalities in preparing bills and other regulations relating to commercial, industrial, and mining affairs through rendering consultative views;
* Conducting studies on the expansion and promotion of commercial, industrial, and mining activities;
* Analysis of potential foreign markets for the export of Iranian goods and to encourage the participation of related entities in national as well as international trade affairs
* Channeling domestic investment towards the manufacturing sector, particularly production of goods with competitive advantage for export;
* Establishing joint chambers and commissions with other nations based on strategic policies of the country.
On December 1, 2013, Gholamhossein Shafe’i was elected as the new chairman of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Mines.
Shafe’i replaced Mohammad Nahavandian, who was in charge since July 2010.
In an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times, Shafe’i expounded on the role of ICCIM in the circumvention of international sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear program, and the measures ICCIM has taken to create a balance between the country’s non-oil imports and exports.
Following are excerpts from comments of Shafe’i during the interview:
The Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Mines set up a task force soon after the western countries imposed economic sanctions against the country. The taskforce was missioned with formulating plans to deal with the sanctions while the expansion of links with private sectors in other countries was prioritized. Fortunately ICCIM managed to compensate for a portion of the trade loss in the wake of the sanctions through transacting with third parties. For instance, China, Turkey, United Arab Emirates as well as Central Asian countries have assisted us with trying to find solutions.
Of course, the situation has now changed. The effective diplomacy of the nuclear negotiating team and the positive attitude of the international community towards Iran have led to a flow of demands from foreign business delegations to visit the country.
In fact, they are competing to re-enter the large Iranian market. Some business delegations have come from countries which have been the leading organizers of international sanctions against Iran. ICCIM received a business delegation from France and sent a delegation to Norway while sending delegations to Denmark and Germany is also on the agenda.
In my opinion, ICCIM could play an important role in both the expansion of economic ties with other countries and to contribute to the development of political and diplomatic relations.
Upon the imposition of sanctions, ICCIM changed its policy towards boosting trade with Asian and Southeast Asian countries instead of European countries.
On one hand, European countries are looking forward to resume trade ties with Iran and re-enter the Iranian market as the sanctions have been eased. On the other hand, Asian countries are planning to maintain trade ties and keep their share of the Iranian market.
We should act expediently and create a balance between the two sides based on the national interests.
On the improvement of quality of import, ICCIM holds a recommendatory role.
In the competitive market today, two factors are of utmost importance: price and quality. There is a dire need to improve the quality of domestically manufactured products to gain a competitive edge in the international market.
Industrial technology is not advanced in Iran. Many of the industrial units are working with obsolete machinery which in turn increases both the production and the maintenance costs.
There are three prerequisites in order to obtain a positive result from efforts to create a balance between export and import.
• The first, is the level of activity by joint economic commissions with other countries, which operates under the supervision of related ministers.
• The second, is the level of cooperation between the joint commissions and the ICCIM.
• And the third, is the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Unfortunately, mismanagement in the financial sector and the expansion of financial brokerages over the past decade has wasted a large share of resources which could have been allocated to the manufacturing sector.
As a result, non-oil exports have declined. The solution to the problem is adopting suitable policies and taking appropriate measures.