Iran Chamber of Commerce to Host Iran-Vietnam Business Forum on August 9
The Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture (ICCIMA) is set to host the Iran-Vietnam Business Forum at its headquarters in Tehran on Wednesday. Officially dubbed “Regulations and policies for the development of economic, commercial and investment cooperation between Iran and Vietnam”, the forum is a significant part of the upcoming visit to Tehran by National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue from August 8-10.
Anticipated to attract around 70 Vietnamese businesspersons, the event aims to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Vietnamese market and explore the various business and investment opportunities in the Southeast Asian country.
During Hue’s trip, the two countries are expected to sign cooperation agreements in economy, trade, agriculture, justice, and sports, as well as cooperation between localities, per reporting in Vietnamese news media.
B2B opportunities for Vietnam-Iran industries
During the Iran-Vietnam Business Forum, business leaders from both Iran and Vietnam will engage in fruitful business-to-business (B2B) meetings encompassing various industries, such as agriculture and seafood, technology for drying and processing agricultural products, food, rice, spices, carpets, Iranian handicrafts, health and cosmetic products, cotton textiles, trade and services, renewable energies, AI technology, gene and cell technology, maritime transportation, port operations, textiles, and more.
Run-up to the forum
In preparation for the Vietnamese parliament speaker’s visit, the Vietnamese ambassador to Tehran, Luong Quoc Huy, met with ICCIMA President Hossein Selahvarzi on July 11. During the meeting, the Ambassador Huy highlighted Iran’s economic significance for the region—the upcoming business forum could be an opportunity to foster mutually beneficial partnerships between Iran and Vietnam stakeholders.
Meanwhile, besides indicating keenness to develop business relations with Vietnam, Selahvarzi urged the Southeast nation to consider easing visa requirements for Iranians.
The ICCIMA president also mentioned the exercise of barter trade and use of cryptocurrencies in bilateral exchanges. On July 29, the head of the trade office of the Vietnamese embassy in Tehran, Nguyen Thanh Long, visited the Iran Chamber of Commerce, taking forward some of the discussions between Huy and Selahavarzi.
50 years of Vietnam-Iran diplomatic relations
Cultural exchanges and collaborative efforts between Vietnam and Iran throughout the last five decades have laid a solid foundation for further enhancing their bilateral relations. During this period, Vietnam and Iran have held nine meetings of their Intergovernmental Committee and engaged in seven political consultations at the deputy ministerial level.
There, however, remains significant potential for cooperation between the two nations in various sectors, including economics, trade, investment, tourism, culture, and people-to-people exchanges. Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, is one of the priorities of Iran’s foreign policy, and is reflected in the administration of Iranian President E. Raisi.
In 2022, Vietnam’s economy displayed remarkable growth, expanding by an impressive eight percent. Additionally, the country’s foreign exchange reserves saw a substantial increase of 10 percent during the same year. It is an important market for Iran trade and commerce within Asia and, in particular, Southeast Asia.
Bilateral trade and growth prospects
The trade between Iran and Vietnam is currently valued at approximately US$140 million to US$150 million, according to ICCIMA. Iran imports goods worth about US$45 million from Vietnam and exports goods valued at around US$96 million to the country. Within this trade portfolio, Vietnam predominantly exports cashew nuts, coffee, pepper, and tea to Iran, while it imports plastic and petroleum products, metals, and pharmaceuticals from the Middle Eastern country.
According to ICCIMA Director-General for the Arab-African States (International Department) Shahram Khasipour, the present level of trade falls short of the available potential. He believes there is a significant opportunity for increased commercial cooperation, particularly in sectors such as foodstuff, including tropical fruits, coffee, and dried fruits, as well as construction materials, medicine, marine products, and the export of technical and engineering services. These represent demand growth areas – tapping Iranian consumer interests and technical capabilities of Vietnam’s industrial enterprise.
Khasipour suggests that with the right efforts, the exchange of goods and services between the two countries could reach up to two billion dollars. To achieve this goal, it would require bilateral efforts from both the Iranian and Vietnamese governments. They would need to focus on providing the necessary infrastructure, including monetary and financial mechanisms, establishing regular shipping lines, and introducing direct flights between the two nations. Such initiatives could pave the way for substantial growth in trade and economic cooperation.
Overcoming obstacles in the way of stronger bilateral commercial ties
The biggest hindrance to trade relations between Vietnam and Iran is the tough sanctions imposed on Tehran. These sanctions have posed numerous difficulties for trade and investment activities between the two nations since 2018, particularly concerning payment through bank transfers. Additionally, the absence of direct flights and inadequate transport systems have further contributed to the challenges faced in fostering bilateral trade ties.
To enhance and strengthen trade relations, Iranian expert Dr Abed Akbari, Director of the Tehran International Studies and Research Institute, has suggested that Vietnam diversify its exports beyond traditional products. This means focusing on items like computers, electronics, garments, footwear, and popular tropical fruits, such as coconut, pineapple, and mango, which hold high demand in the Iranian market. In parallel, Iran should take measures to support export enterprises, increase the participation of Iranian businesses in exhibitions held in Vietnam, and actively seek solutions to transportation issues and alternative financial methods.
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