Vietnam wants to boost trade with Iran

HANOI (Viet Nam News/ANN) - Though bilateral trade rose 41 per cent to US$164.6 million last year, this figure is still far below the potential of these two longstanding partners.

National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan has expressed her belief that the ongoing visit by Speaker of the Parliament of Iran Ali Ardeshir Larijani will contribute to consolidating the traditional friendship and co-operation between the two nations. 

During talks with the Iranian parliament leader following a welcome ceremony in Hanoi on April 16, Ngan lauded the effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, which she said has helped facilitate the socio-economic development of Iran. 

She called for close co-ordination between the two countries to lift two-way trade to US$2 billion, with attention given to specific fields. The Vietnamese National Assembly (NA) leader also expressed the country’s wish to receive Iran’s diplomatic note supporting Vietnam’s run for a seat in the United Nations Security Council for 2020-21, as previously agreed by the two countries’ leaders. 

Larijani, for his part, congratulated the Vietnamese NA on successfully holding the 26th Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum.

He said he believed that the two countries will achieve the ambitious trade target, adding that Iran can assist Vietnam in the field of oil and gas, and is eager to learn from Vietnam’s experience in the agriculture sector. 

The Iranian parliament speaker suggested potentially boosting ties in fields such as pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, banking connectivity, and tourism, as well as in film, television, and the exchange of lecturers and students. 

He also said that while the two sides have previously operated several chartered flights, they must consider launching direct flight services to step up economic development, especially in the areas of trade and tourism. 

Both sides agreed to enhance the exchange of state visits of all-levels, and to co-ordinate more closely in global and regional forums, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union. 

The two leaders agreed that although bilateral trade reached US$164.6 million in 2017, up 41 per cent from the previous year, the figure has yet to match its massive potential. 

Speaker Larijani said that the statistics haven’t fully reflected actual bilateral trade revenue since many Vietnamese products in Iran were imported via a third country. He noted that the Iranian Government is in the process of creating more favourable conditions for Vietnamese tourists, including granting visas at ports of entry. If the Vietnamese Government also provides similar conditions, bilateral trade will increase, he said. 

Ngan pointed out similarities between the two countries, such as that Iran is a populous Middle Eastern country while Vietnam is a populous nation in Southeast Asia. The two should therefore prioritise the trading of goods that each side specialises in, and speed up the settlement of payment hurdles. Alongside this, they should encourage market surveying, trade promotion, and investment between the two countries’ businesses. 

She said the fields of information technology and telecommunications hold major co-operation potential. Vietnam wants to make bilateral partnerships in these spheres, and use them to make a breakthrough in bilateral ties, thereby stimulating co-operation in other fields. 

Vietnam’s military-run telecom group Viettel is very interested in the telecom market of Iran, she said, asking Iran to create favourable conditions for Viettel to take part in telecom projects in the Middle Eastern nation. 

Larijani said his country will support the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) to reactivate the Danan project - the $115 million project involved building temporary oil wells in Iran’s Danan oil field. His current visit is also aimed at hearing the opinions of Vietnamese businesses interested in investing in Iran so as to remove obstacles and strengthen partnerships. 

As well as investment and trade, Iran is ready to provide scholarships for Vietnamese students to study the Persian language and other subjects. They are also keen to continue exchanging university lecturers, and step up cultural and tourism cooperation through organising exhibitions, film screenings and other cultural events. 

Regarding parliamentary ties, Ngan affirmed that parliamentary relations are an important channel in Vietnam’s foreign policy. She expressed her hope that the two parliaments will bolster delegation exchanges at all levels, especially between specialised committees to share legislative and supervisory experience. 

She noted that during the 14th NA of Vietnam, an 8-member Vietnam-Iran parliamentary friendship group was created, chaired by Vice Chairman of the NA’s Judicial Affairs Committee Nguyen Van Pha. She said that the two sides should further bring into play their parliamentary friendship groups to enhance co-operation between the two parliaments. 

The two leaders also agreed to push the effective implementation of the signed agreements between the two nations, including deals reached by the countries’ inter-governmental committees. 

Regional and international issues of shared concern were also discussed during the talks. Ngan pointed to the importance of the East Sea, which is a major shipping route linking Europe, the Middle East and Africa with Southeast Asia. The route is used in the transportation of 50 per cent of all goods delivered by sea around the world. 

Maintaining the peace, stability, and security of navigation in and over the East Sea is in the common interest of all countries inside and outside the region, she said, stressing that Vietnam advocates the settlement of East Sea disputes by peaceful means, in line with international law. She said that Vietnam respects the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, paying attention to diplomatic and legal processes along with the rights and legitimate interests of relevant parties. 

Sharing the view, Speaker Larijani said that Iran will prioritise finding diplomatic solutions in resolving conflicts and disputes. 

At the end of the talks, Ngan accepted an invitation to visit Iran from the Iranian Speaker, saying that she will arrange time for the visit. The Vietnamese NA leader chaired a banquet for the Iranian guests in the evening of the same day.

Mutual benefits

Vietnam wants to step up its friendship with Iran and both sides should work to bolster economic, trade and investment ties to live up with their potential, said General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong. 

Holding a reception in Hanoi on April 16 for Speaker of the Parliament of Iran Ali Ardeshir Larijani, who is on a four-day visit to Vietnam, Party leader Trong affirmed Vietnam’s consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralism of relations on the basis of international principals, equality and mutual benefits. 

The Party chief took the occasion to congratulate Iran on its successes in political stabilisation, development and increasing position in the international arena. 

He expressed his delight at the strong relations between Vietnam and Iran. 

He recommended the two countries strengthen co-ordination at regional and international forums while promoting the exchange of delegations as well as exchange activities in culture, sports, education-training and tourism. 

The moves will bring benefits to both sides, for interests of their people and for regional and global peace and development, he stressed. 

Ali Ardeshir Larijani, for his part, lauded Vietnam’s achievements in regional and international arenas, believing that under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Vietnamese people will reap more successes in national construction, protection and development. 

He asserted his determination to further the friendship between the legislative bodies, states and people of Vietnam and Iran.

Iran is ready to work with Vietnam in petrochemistry, mining, tourism, aviation, pharmaceuticals, security, defence and banking, among others, he noted. 

He invited Party General Secretary Trong to visit Iran and the Party chief accepted the invitation with pleasure. 

Close friendship

Iran wishes to promote ties with Vietnam, Speaker of the Parliament of Iran Ali Ardeshir Larijani told Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during their meeting in Hanoi on April 16. 

During the meeting, Larijani mentioned the close friendship between Vietnam and Iran over the past 45 years, saying that as the two countries’ celebration of the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic ties (1973-2018) this year will open up new opportunities to expand bilateral relations. 

The Parliament of Iran has recently approved a plan for the country’s development over the next five years which encourages foreign investment in oil and gas, petrochemistry, liquefied petroleum gas and agriculture, said the top Iranian legislator. 

Iran wants to work with Vietnam in these areas, alongside information technology, cyber-security and environmental protection, he noted, adding that Iran will create all possible conditions for Vietnamese enterprises to do business in his country. 

To raise two-way trade to $2 billion, he suggested that the two countries set up a direct air route and simplify visa procedures to boost tourism. He also urged better co-ordination between the two sides in finance and banking. 

PM Phuc, for his part, appreciated the proposals by his Iranian guest, saying they are closely aligned with the focus of the two nations’ co-operation. 

Welcoming Larijani to attend the Vietnam-Iran business forum during his visit, Phuc said he has instructed agencies to invite to the event Vietnamese companies that are interested in developing partnerships with peers from Iran. 

He asked Iran to back Vietnam’s candidacy for the UN Security Council from 2020-21 and suggested the two sides increase exchanges of high-level delegations and closely work together to host celebrations of the 45th anniversary of the Vietnam-Iran diplomatic ties. 

Vietnam encourages Iranian firms to trade and invest in the production of agricultural products and welcomes Iran’s co-operation in sea transportation, port construction and support industries, the PM said. 

He asked the central banks of Vietnam and Iran to work out ways to remove barriers in payment between the two sides, thus facilitating trade. 

The Iranian leader agreed with PM Phuc, noting that he will direct relevant bodies to translate the ideas into reality for the benefits of both sides and for peace and prosperity in the region and the world at large. 

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