Iran Parliament Approves Direct Foreign Investment
Iran's reformist parliament on Wednesday passed the initial reading of a bill that would for the first time authorize and protect direct foreign investment in Iran.
The bill, which still faces further readings and debate in the chamber, would "encourage, authorize and protect direct foreign investment" in the Islamic republic.
The approval comes a day after parliament had a closed-door session with top cabinet ministers to look at ways of easing the barriers to foreign investment.
Economy Minister Hossein Namazi, Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi and central bank chief Mohsen Nourbakhsh were among the participants at the session, sources said.
It was the first meeting of its kind since the reformist parliament took office in May, but in recent weeks the legislature has voiced support for easing the way to greater foreign investment in the country.
Outside the energy sector, international investment in Iran is allowed only in theory, as fears over investment guarantees as well as Iran's cumbersome administrative and currency-exchange apparatus effectively keep foreign money out.
The Iranian constitution allows no more than 49 percent ownership in key sectors of the economy, which are still controlled by the state.
Meanwhile estimates show Iran needs some 100 billion dollars in foreign capital to overhaul its outdated heavy-industry sector and create some 800,000 new jobs to combat soaring unemployment.
Iran in recent years has attempted to boost outside investment in its resource-rich energy sector, which has totaled no more than about 10 billion dollars in foreign capital - TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)