By Afshin Majlesi

Tehran hosts Sino-Iranian friendship conference as ancient Silk Road backs to life

October 24, 2016 - 17:38

TEHRAN – The Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture (TCCIMA) on Sunday hosted a series of meetings linked with the 7th Sino-Iranian friendship conference, with an eye to the revival of the ancient Silk Road.

Attendees from Iran-China Friendship Society (ICFS) and Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) along with some officials and merchants from both nations are holding talks during the 4-day event to discuss tourism and trade issues.

Several speakers used the context of “One Belt, One Road” initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, as an example of the growing ties between Eurasian nations.

The initiative as a development strategy and framework touches on tightening connectivity and cooperation among Eurasian countries dotted along the ancient trade route by the means of both inland and marine courses.

ICFS Director Ahad Mohammadi opened the conference with a brief talk looking at the rich history of trade and culture the two countries have in common, saying: “the bilateral cooperation has always been on the rise over the course of time.”

Mohammadi also pointed to Jinping’s previous visit to the country, calling it a “turning point” and a clear sign for the growing mutual ties.  

CPAFFC Vice President Lin Yi also referred to “One Belt, One Road” to turn the spotlight on its features and benefits, as she foresaw a bright future for mutual ties in the wake of the Chinese president’s meetings with high-ranking Iranian authorities.    

Heading a cultural and trade delegation, Yi said there separate panels are set to scrutinize expansion of relations in handicrafts, tourism, as well as tech and trade sectors within the Sino-Iranian friendship conference which will come to an end on October 26.  

During its sojourn, the Chinese delegation is also slated to pay a visit to the historic city of Tabriz, once a bustling fragment of the Silk Road.

Amongst other speakers at the conference were Bahman Eshqi, the TCCIMA deputy director; Xu Wei, the Chinese deputy ambassador; and Wang Yi Wei, the director of School of International Studies at Renmin University of China.

Iran and China mapped out a wide-ranging 25-year plan to broaden relations and expand trade during President Jinping’s visit to Iran in January. It was the first visit by a Chinese leader to the Islamic republic in 14 years and came a week after the lifting of international sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

The latest official released by Iran Customs Administration demonstrate that China was the leading trading partner of Iran in the first half of the current Iranian calendar year, started on March 20, 2016. China’s exports to Iran amounted to $4.85 billion, accounting for 23.93 percent of Iran’s total imports in terms of value.

The figures also indicate that Iran exported $3.99 billion of goods to China during the same period, accounting for 18.42 percent of the country’s total exports.

PHOTO: Chinese Deputy Ambassador Xu Wei (C) addresses the 7th Sino-Iranian friendship conference at Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture on October 23, 2016.

AFM/MG

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