Japanese firms look to enter Iran
Iran has appealed to Japan to invest in its expanding market of 62 million people, but the Japanese would like to see bureaucratic obstacles removed first. During the landmark visit from a Japanese government and business delegation, Iran's Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Ali-Naghi touted Tuesday, July 17, Iran as a bounty of economic riches.
"The market of 62 million inhabitants, the natural resources, and the geo-strategic location of Iran on the one side, and on the other Japan's technological capabilities and financial resources create a favorable terrain for our collaboration," Khamushi said.
The Japanese delegation, the largest since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, comprises 80 people, including officials from Japan's trade and industry ministry as well as executives from some 30 companies.
The group arrived in Tehran Sunday night and has embarked on a whirlwind tour of meetings with influential government officials and private businessmen. The Iranians are especially eager to attract Japanese investment in the sector of small- and medium-sized industries.
"We have a million small and medium-sized industrial groups which have the capacity for entering into the world market," Khamushi told the delegation. He added that Iran "faces and lacks information and concrete projects which it can seriously remedy with the aid of partners."
But despite the vigorous courtship, Japanese firms insist they are bothered by Iran's maze of investment laws, which are not applied consistently or with an even hand.
Meeting on Monday with Iran's Economic Affairs Minister Hossein Namazi, the head of Japan's delegation, Mitsubishi CEO Nobuyuki Masuda, urged Iran to "facilitate the conditions for collaboration" and criticized the time it takes to get approval for a visa, the difficulties in transferring money and the multiple taxes in Iran.
Japan's ambassador to Tehran, Ukeru Magosaki, also said Tuesday that "Japanese businesses want to enter the Iranian market but some problems arise on levels of investment."
Masuda expressed the wish that his country would be able to develop relations with Iran in the fields of oil, petrochemicals, road construction and small industry. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangheneh had asked Japan overnight to encourage investment in Iranian oil and gas projects, radio reports said Tuesday.
Iran is already Japan's third largest oil supplier for an estimated 750,000 barrels per day, and at the end of June, Tokyo announced plans to develop the Azadegan oil field in Iran. If the project goes ahead, it could become Japan's largest oil field development.
On Sunday, the two signed a protocol agreement valued at $10 million for Japanese participation in exploring the Azadegan field, which is estimated to have reserves of 26 billion to 40 billion barrels. The Japanese delegation was also to see Iran's Deputy Prime Minister Hassan Habibi on Tuesday. ― (AFP, Tehran)
by Sohrab Morovati
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)