Plenty to do to scale up Indo-Iran trade ties: Envoy

The historical and cultural relations between the two countries for centuries notwithstanding, India ranks low as a destination among Iranians.

 This is reflected in less than 1 per cent of the Iranian tourist population visiting India every year, according to Iranian ambassador to India Gholam Reza Ansari.

“About 8 million Iranian tourists travel globally every year, but only 40,000 of them come to India,” he said at a interactive trade session in Bangalore on Friday.

Asked for the reasons, he said, “India is less known in Iran, that's probably the reason why so few travel to India.”

He said the same applies in the context of business as well. “A lot needs to be done,” he told reporters after the event.

Iran currently has a trade surplus with India, mainly from oil exports, about 45 per cent of which is paid in Indian rupees and deposited with UCO Bank. Ansari, however, declined to specify the amount.

Executive Director of Exim Bank of India David Rasquinha had said in September last year that it was about Rs 19,000 crore “till a few months ago.”

Referring to the trade implications for his country after the international nuclear watchdog (International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) releases its report on January 20 on Iran's nuclear programme, Ansari said, “We are expecting some more relaxation of sanctions.”

The US, Britain, France, China, Russia, Germany and EU are expected to provide “limited, temporary, and targeted relief to Iran”, according to agency reports. This, according to Ansari, will scale up trade opportunities with many countries for Iran, including India.Putting the sanctions in perspective, Ansari said, “We are the biggest experts of (managing) sanctions in the world. Now, we hope to find official ways of doing trade.”

He welcomed Indian businesses in energy, pharmaceuticals and information technology to scale up bilateral trade between the two countries that was about $14 billion last financial year. Co-production of movies is also a potential area of cooperation, he added.

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