Sunday, December 26, 2004

FT.com / World / Europe - EU to begin trade talks with Iran

FT.com / World / Europe - EU to begin trade talks with Iran: "EU to begin trade talks with Iran
By Daniel Dombey in Brussels
Published: December 26 2004 20:20 | Last updated: December 26 2004 20:20

Trade talks between Iran and the European Union are set to begin on January 12 as the EU drive to improve ties with Tehran gathers pace.

France, Germany and the UK have been keen to offer Iran incentives to restrict its nuclear programme, which the US suspects is intended to develop atomic weapons. Tehran says the programme is wholly peaceful.

The talks, aimed at establishing a Trade and Co-operation Agreement between Iran and the EU, resume negotiations that were interrupted in June 2003 because of mounting international concerns about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Those concerns were most vocally expressed by the US, which has cast doubt on the prospects for the EU drive and has sought instead to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council.

But in comments this month, President George W. Bush gave the EU's policy of engagement his strongest support yet and even seemed to criticise his own administration's more confrontational approach.

"We don't have much leverage with the Iranians right now," he said at a press conference last week, arguing that the US instead had to rely on the contacts that had been made by the Europeans.

"We're relying upon others, because we've sanctioned ourselves out of influence with Iran, to send a message that. . . we expect them to listen to those voices," he said. "We're a part of the universal acclaim [for the EU approach]. . . This is how we're dealing with the issue," he said. "And so diplomacy must be the first choice."

However, there are enduring doubts whether the EU can forge a lasting compromise with Iran, which has sought nuclear capacity for decades and is surrounded by enemies, many of them nuclear-armed.

The trade talks are an offshoot of three working groups set up by Iran and the EU, looking at economic, security and nuclear issues.

The groups, which were formally convened in Brussels, are expected to next meet in Tehran early next year."

Iran Trade and Tourism Week opens at Expo Centre Sharjah

Iran Trade and Tourism Week opens at Expo Centre Sharjah - AME Info Business News: "Iran Trade and Tourism Week opens at Expo Centre Sharjah
The Iran Trade and Tourism Week, an opportunity to explore trade, investment and tourism prospects from one of Middle East's largest economies, was inaugurated on December 26, 2004, at Expo Centre Sharjah, by H.E. Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal Al Qassimi, Chairman of Sharjah Economic Development Department and H.E. Mr. Mojtaba Khosrow Taj, Vice Minister of Commerce and head of Trade Promotion Organization, Islamic Rep. of Iran.

H.E. Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal Al Qassimi, Chairman of Sharjah Economic Development Department and H.E. Mr. Mojtaba Khosrow Taj, Vice Minister of Commerce and head of Trade Promotion Organization, Islamic Rep. of Iran inaugurated the Iran Trade and Tourism Week today.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa – Chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Mr. Mohammed Salem Al Mosharrekh - Board Member (SCCI), Mr. Fasahat Ali Khan - Acting Director General of Expo Centre Sharjah, members of a high ranking delegation from Iran, directors of various government departments, and members of the diplomatic corps and trade associations.

The five-day exhibition, under the patronage of H.H. DR. Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has been organised by the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, Iran International Exhibitions Company, and Expo Centre Sharjah, with the support of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).

The event, one of Iran's largest exhibitions in the region, represents not only a wide range of its industries, free zones and banking services but also provides detailed information about the country's art, culture, and tourism.

"Iran and the UAE have extremely cordial bi-lateral relations. The political ties between the two countries have been reinforced by the ever growing economic ties," said Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, Chairman of the SCCI, after the inauguration ceremony.

"The Iran Trade and Tourism Week is a true reflection of the strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries," he added.

Mr. Midfa further said that the UAE was a key base for Iranian traders and workers in the region. Currently, Iranians account for one-fifth of UAE's population.

Commenting on the impact that the exhibition was intended to have on the trade ties between the two countries, Mr. Fasahat Ali Khan, Acting Director General, Expo Centre Sharjah, said: "The Iran Trade and Tourism Week is being held at a time when trade between UAE and Iran is already experiencing phenomenal growth. This event is intended at boosting that growth even further."

"For UAE and other GGC based companies keen to either source Iranian products or enter in to tie ups with Iranian enterprises, there exists no better platform in the region that provides such opportunities," said Mr. Khan.

Mr. Khan also said that the Iran Trade and Tourism Week was a channel that would very effectively help Iranian products and services penetrate the UAE market in particular and the GCC region in general and establish a firm foothold in the process.

The Iran Trade and Tourism Week is showcasing over 100 top Iranian companies engaged in a range of activities including agriculture, handicrafts, foodstuff, building and construction, chemicals, mining, oil and gas, transportation, IT and many others.

Iranian investment opportunities too are being actively promoted at the event through the active participation of a host of free zones, banking services and companies engaged in other economic spheres.

Iran, at present, is one of the top markets for UAE exports, given that the former heavily relies on imports from Dubai, the Gulf's commercial hub.

In 2003, the largest volume of goods traded between Iran and foreign countries was conducted with the UAE.

The trade exchange between the two sides stood at Dh16.10 billion ($ 4.4 billion) in value, which is 13.5 percent of the total value of Dh118.95 billion ($ 32.5 billion) traded between Iran and other countries worldwide. The trade exchange between Iran and UAE had a growth of 53.2 percent compared with a year before.
Besides lucrative trade opportunities, visitors to the Iran Trade and Tourism Week will also be treated to an insight in to the fascinating world of Iranian art and culture.

The Iran Trade and Tourism Week will be open from 10 am to 1 pm for trade only and from 4.30 pm to 9 pm for trade and general public."