According to Mehr News Agency quoting the Chamber of the Commerce in Tehran, while some news on the occurrence of new problems has been heard on the economic cooperation between Iran and China for the recent days, the Chinese ambassador was invited to be present in the forum of the private sector's activists so as to both answer their questions and ensure them that the issues which have come up will be resolved with a little bit of patience and endurance in the process of negotiation."
Referring to the long-standing relations between Iran and China in the beginning of the forum, the deputy of the International Affairs of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Mohammad Reza Bakhtiari added, "The Chinese ambassador and his entourage have attend this joint meeting to exchange views and talk mutually with the representatives of private sector on the ways of developing bilateral trade."
He continued, "It is always possible to face challenges in the development of business relations; hence, we intend to discuss the barriers and find solutions to facilitate the bilateral trade."
The Silk Road and the opportunity for a new transformation
In a speech referring to the prosperity of economic cooperation between Iran and China over the past decades, Massoud Khansari also said, "The economic relations between the two countries kept on in the course of the sanctions imposed by western countries despite external disagreements and pressures."
Stating that both countries have tried to expand the level of their cooperation in the fields of energy and technology during the course of their economic relations, The head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture said, "Today, the status of economic interactions between the two countries have improved to joint venture in oil and gas, as well as the construction of oil tankers."
Referring to the grand project of Chinese government called "A Road, A Belt" or the Silk Road revival, he added, "The project which is supported by huge investment by Chinese government is a very golden opportunity for the type of economic cooperation between the two countries of Iran and China to enter a new phase."
Referring to the hidden economic potential of the two countries in tourism sector, Khansari continued, "According to the statistics, Chinese people annually spend approximately 100 billion USD on tourism, and with the precise planning of both governments, I can have a high share in attracting Chinese tourists regarding its high tourist capacities and attractions."
Referring to the joint investment of both countries in the field of tourism and hotel construction in Iran, the head of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, said, "The private sectors of the two contries can take advantage of this opportunity."
He also considered the China's investment in the construction of Tehran – Isfahan Express Rail Line as well as Tehran – Mashhad Electric Rail Link a major step in developing economic relations between the two countries."
The trade between the two countries should increase by 15 to 20 percent per year
Following the meeting, pointing out that the level of the trade between Iran and China began at 50 million USD and then 200 million USD at the first years after Islamic Revolution, Assadullah Asgaroladi – the member of Tehran Chamber of Commerce and the head of Iran- China Chamber of Commonwealth- said, "With the visit of the Supreme Leader, who was the president of Iran at the time, to China a turning point was created in the relations of the two countries and the value of trades between Iran and China continued to increase so that it eventually reached 50 billion USD in the years of 2012, 2013, and 2014."
Sating that the deals were always about 55% in favor of Iran and 45% in favor of China, he continued, "The level of the trade between the two countries fell by 20% in 2015 due to the decrease in oil price and other issues, and with this constant downward trend, the value of Iran- China trade reached at 32 billion USD in 2016."
Asgaroladi said, "In the first 5 months of 2017, the value of the trade between the two countries has exceeded 15 billion USD, and the predictions suggest that 40 to 42 billion USD will be realized by the end of the year."
He continued, "The businesspeople in the sector of petrochemicals have encountered with problems in receiving the funds from their exports. Moreover, some Iranian accounts are blocked in Chinese banks while the problem is entitled to be solved rather than restricted."
Facilitating the issuance of visas for Iranian businesspeople was Asgaroladi's another demand who added, "Iranian business people expect to receive a one-year visa. At least we expect a one-year visa to be issued for the businesspeople who are introduced by Tehran Chamber of Commerce or Iran- China Joint Chamber."
He continued, "Most Chinese media have based their news resources in the western media which are trying to portray a negative image of Iran. I always asked the Chinese media to be realistic about Iran and the conditions and circumstances of this big country."
Finally Asgaroladi said, "I have promised the Chinese president that the volume of trade between Iran and China will increase 15 to 20 percent each year until the end of the sixth comprehensive plan. Therefore, help us to achieve this figure."
Chinese government's plan to send one million tourists to Iran annually
Ahmad Mohammadi, the president of the Iran- China Friendship Society, referring to the 20th anniversary of the their society, also said at the meeting, "The Iran- China Friendship Society has had good cultural and economic cooperation with China for two decades."
Stating that Iran has not been able to play its real role in the Chinese government's project of "A Road, A Belt", he added, "The issue of closing some Iranian accounts in China is worrisome, and we are investigating why Chinese banks have unexpectedly blocked some Iranian bank accounts."
Also referring to the economic development of the two countries in the field of tourism, Mohammadi added, The Chinese government has announced their plan to send one million Chinese tourists to Iran each year, which is a good event and the private sector in Iran welcome this plan.
While criticizing Chinese mass media for using Western media resources about Iran, he said, "Iran ambassador in China should seriously discuss this issue with Chinese officials and ask the Chinese media to use Iranian authentic media for the news coverage about Iran."
A clear prospective on the development of China –Iran cooperation
Following on the meeting, referring to the historic relations between Iran and China which dates back to 2000 years, the Chinese ambassador, Pang Sen, said, "Even during the intensification of sanctions, the two countries' bilateral relations remained at good level. However, after the implementation of JCPOA, better conditions were created for cooperation, especially the Chinese president's visit to Iran in 2016 promoted the relations between the two countries to the level of comprehensive strategic relations."
Also referring to the China – Iran agreements to revive the Silk Road, Pang Sen continued, "The bilateral cooperation has a good prospect. Nowadays, large joint projects are being carried out, including the construction on the route of Tehran- Mashhad Express Railway, and the railway of Tehran-Isfahan, Abadan refinery, and the projects on the Azadegan oil field. In addition, the joint project of Iran, China, and Total France will be launched soon for the development of the phase 11 of South Pars."
While speaking on the visit of the special envoy of Chinese president to attend the inauguration ceremony of Iran's president, he added, "The special envoy of Chinese president met Iranian authorities, and they mentioned the issues and the barriers of developing the trade between the two countries during the meetings."
Pngsen also announced some measures taken by Chinese government to facilitate the issuance of visas and further emphasized the development of tourism cooperation. He said, "The expansion of the tourisms goals depends not only on the government's efforts but also on the cooperation of travel agencies."
Referring to the World Tourism Conference in China, the Chinese ambassador added, "Some representatives from Iran have also been invited while emphasizing the strengthening of the media relations between the two countries to reflect positive news on Iran."
The issue of blocked accounts will be solved with a bit of patience and tolerance
After his speech had been ended, the Chinese ambassador answered the questions which were mainly about the banking problems and barriers in China asked by economic activists and the private sector's representatives."
Pang Sen said, "Since a while ago, Chinese government has dedicated a bank in China to provide service to Iranian businesspeople. And despite the fact that some restrictions have been imposed on the bank by the US government, the banking service to Iranian business people continues."
Referring to the restrictions imposed by FATF on Iran, he added, "The two governments of Iran and China have been trying to resolve the problems caused by transferring money between the two countries."
Referring to offering finance from Egzim Bank and the National Development Bank of China for the implementation of projects for the construction of railroad in Iran, he continued, "Regarding the blockade of some Iranian bank accounts in China, negotiations are being made between the officials of the two countries, and we should be a bit patient and tolerant to overcome the problems."
On the issue of Iranian petrochemical business people's not receiving money, the Chinese ambassador also said, "The issue is related to the cooperation of the banks in both countries. Chinese banks are commercial, and the government cannot handle the problem by imperative measures. However, the way to finance is open as two Chinese banks signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran a while ago to open up financing for some projects like Tehran- Mashhad railroad."
Pang Sen continued, "Chinese banks are keen on playing role in the development process of Iran which also includes the petrochemical trading between the two countries."
At the meeting various issues were discussed including the development of interconnections in the field of tourism, the closure of some bank accounts, and the money transfer for the exchanges of petrochemicals. The Chinese ambassador and the business advisor of the embassy assured Iranian entrepreneurs that the issues are being negotiated and followed up."
Meanwhile Chinese ambassador emphasized, "Although Chinese government cannot handle the problem by imperative measures against Chinese commercial banks, but the banks affiliated to Chinese government have been instructed to finance the joint investments for the projects like the construction of express railway which are following up the issue very well."
Furthermore, regarding the attraction of Chinese tourists, the increase of Iran's share of 100 billion USD of Chinese tourists per year was discussed."