Ambassador outlines Iranian deputy FM’s upcoming visit to Delhi

June 15, 2022 - 20:56

TEHRAN— In an interview with Borna news agency, Iran’s ambassador to New Delhi has recounted the vast potential for cooperation between Iran and India, noting the pursuit of technical engineering activities and the regulation of the banking mechanism were among the goals of the foreign ministry economic team’s visit to India.

Ali Chegini, Iran's ambassador to India, discussed the visit of the economic team of the foreign ministry to India, saying, “The visit of the Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy, Mehdi Safari, has been on the agenda for a long time, but was postponed to after the holy month of Ramadan due to tight schedules. However, due to the coincidence of the foreign minister's visit to India, it was decided that he would travel to India after Mr. Amir Abdollahian to pursue the agreements between Iran and India.”

He continued by saying that banking issues have already been on the agenda of the delegation. 

“There have been a series of very small dues between some banks in Iran and India that have been settled. The banking mechanism is Rial-Rupee, which has already been active and successful between the two countries,” he explained. 

Regarding the banking mechanism between Iran and India, Chegini noted that Indian banks, with the help of Iranian banks, have continued to provide this system to some extent in agricultural and pharmaceutical items, and will continue to do so in the case of some agricultural products. However, he noted, non-oil items have not been put on this list. 

“One of the suggestions is to generalize this mechanism between all non-oil items between the two countries, which is in fact the technical basis of barter trade,” the envoy said.

He added that due to SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system, payments between the two countries are facing problems, but there are solutions to minimize these issues, and this is one of the goals of Safari’s upcoming trip.

“Chabahar is another important topic of this trip. Naturally an official from Chabahar Free Zone or the Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization will accompany Mr. Safari on this trip to follow up on previous agreements or negotiate new agreements or correct some issues,” Chegini said. 

Iran and India are complementary in agricultural exchanges

Elsewhere in the interview, the ambassador discussed agricultural exchanges between Iran and India.

The diplomat said that increasing agricultural exchanges between Iran and India is important and these two countries are complementary in this regard.

“Trade between Iran and India can be expanded through opening letter of credit (LC) and based on the Rupee-Rial mechanism.”

“We have traditionally been a good customer of Indian tea and rice, and on the other hand in the last two years in regards to exporting agricultural products such as apples, dates, saffron and kiwi to India we have had a very significant amount of export and in some products, we are the top exporter to India,” he exemplified. 

According to Chegini, Iran has taken a very large share of the Indian market through understanding and cooperation.

In return, products such as Indian apples, bananas and pineapples were able to take a share in the Iranian market that was previously monopolized by some countries in Latin America, he noted. 

Safari’s visit intended to pursue technical, engineering cooperation 

Regarding the goals of Safari’s impending trip to New Delhi, the envoy explained, “Some cooperation for exporting engineering services to India is on the agenda of this trip.

Before the sanctions, we won very large projects by Iranian companies in Indian tender offers in the fields of ports and road construction.” 

He went on to note that due to the coronavirus pandemic and banking problems and some secondary issues, the brutal sanctions against Iranian companies kept Tehran away from the vast Indian market. 

“As a result, the issue of exchange of technical and engineering services between the two countries are on the agenda,” the ambassador reiterated. 

We saw the independent voice of India in the Russian-Ukrainian war 

Elsewhere in the interview, the Iranian ambassador to India noted that Tehran does not look one-sidedly in economic relations. 

“I believe that Iran and India have a complementary market and can meet each other's products and needs. At the same time, we saw the independent voice of India on the issue of Ukraine and Russia and the crisis that the West is putting pressure on,” he noted. 

He continued by saying that this independent voice of India encourages Iran to amplify this voice.

“We can have new chapters of bilateral cooperation with India and even with third countries such as Russia and other countries, so one of the things to consider is to facilitate banking and interbank payments between the two countries,” the diplomat noted.

“Many banks are not subject to primary and secondary sanctions,” Chegini said, adding that the volume of Tehran-New Delhi’s non-oil trade has multiplied during the sanctions-era, and this shows that Iran has distanced itself from just selling crude oil. 

“India is a very good market for agricultural products. By eliminating intermediaries, the two nations can benefit more. Trade between the two capitals can be expanded through opening letter of credit (LC) and based on the same Rupee-Rial mechanism, using the national currencies of the two countries,” the ambassador said. 

Iran is ready to transfer energy to India without any restrictions

Regarding the current state of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, otherwise known as the peace pipeline, Chegini said, “In addition to the fact that consumers or key stakeholders in the peace pipeline kept an eye on Western sanctions, there was also the issue of difference between intermediary countries and determining how to invest.”

He then went on to note that this is a serious discussion and not much has changed so far. “If India and other related countries announce their readiness, Iran is ready to do its job in the field of energy without any restrictions or looking at third countries.”

The Iranian ambassador to India further stated that India, by supplying its oil needs from Russia, declared a kind of independence from Western policy. 

“Our Ministry of Oil continues to openly embrace contracts or venues or fields that we previously cooperated with India on energy issues. Therefore, we are willing to cooperate based on respect and mutual benefits, and we have no restrictions,” he noted.

He concluded by saying that Iran is a country with high potential and a reliable customer for energy supply of the subcontinent, especially India, and “no supplier can be found with the confidence and ability of Iran in the field of energy for many friendly countries.”

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