Iran's non-oil sectors open up to Chinese

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/17 22:58:40

Iran hopes to maintain active role in ‘Belt &Road’ initiative

Iranian Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Ali Tayyebnia Photo: Liu Caiyu/GT

A senior Iranian official said his country welcomes Chinese investment in non-oil sectors and hopes to "maintain an active role" in the Belt and Road initiate.

"Iran is willing to expand all-out relations with China in the post-sanction era. China-Iran relations cannot and will not be affected by the turbulent world politics," Iranian Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Ali Tayyebnia told the Global Times on Wednesday in Beijing.

Tayyebnia said bilateral trade volume has risen 100 times over the past 30 years.  In recent years, bilateral cooperation has switched from the oil trade to infrastructure and investments.

Having played an active role in the ancient Silk Road, he said Iran hopes to maintain that role under the Belt and Road initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. "Iran has identified projects for Chinese investment both for the land and maritime Silk Roads. We hope to start discussions on those projects as soon as possible," he added.

After the international sanctions were lifted on Iran in January, Xi visited the country for the first time, mapping out a 25-year plan which includes investments of up to $600 billion over the next decade.

Tayyebnia said the two countries complement each other in energy resources and investments. "Iran's energy supply meets China's current and future demands since Iran has the largest oil and natural gas reserves, and China is one of the largest energy importers."

He said he predicts China, the world's top overseas investor, will become the world's largest economy. Iran happens to have the raw materials China needs to support its industrial activity.

Giving the country's crucial geographic location, Tayyebnia said Iran enjoys a potential market of more than 400 million people in the region and highly competitive domestic low-cost labor. The abundance of cultural relics could also attract investments in tourism.

Following the lifting of international sanctions, Iran, with a population of 8 million, has scrambled to get its economy back on track, and oil is seen as one of the primary components of that strategy.

But Tayyebnia said Iran, an OPEC member, is targeting an annual growth rate of 8 percent over the next five years through non-oil businesses, the privatization of massive state assets and improving its investment environment. Reducing the share of energy exports in government revenue could be achieved by increasing non-energy exports, he said.

He added the oil industry's share of revenue has been reduced over the years from 80 percent to less than 30 percent. Last year, non-energy industries achieved a trade surplus of over $1 billion. "The sanctions have helped us study our weaknesses," Tayyebnia said.

During his three-day visit in Beijing, the minister participated in the 18th session of the Iran-China Joint Economic Commission. He also signed a memorandum with the Export-Import Bank of China on financing economic and infrastructures.

Posted in: Mid-East, Asia-Pacific

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