Iran's first Vice President Hassan Habibi on Wednesday, July 18, told a visiting major Japanese government and business delegation, so far reluctant to invest in Iran, that investments in the Islamic republic would be safe.
"The new investment law is currently being examined by the parliament," Habibi told the delegation headed by Mitsubishi CEO Nobuyuki Masuda, adding that once passed, it would "favor foreign investments," the state IRNA news agency reported. Habibi also underlined the need for a "firm desire to promote bilateral relations" among officials in Iran and Japan.
The delegation, which comprises officials from Japan's trade and industry ministry as well as executives from some 30 companies, is the largest delegation from Japan to be visiting Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The group arrived in Tehran late Sunday.
Habibi's reassurance that foreign investments in Iran are safe comes after the major Japanese trade delegation insisted they are bothered by Iran's maze of investment laws, which are not applied consistently or with an even hand.
During the visit, Iranian officials, including President Mohammad Khatami, Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Ali-Naghi, Economic Affairs Minister Hossein Namazi, and Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangheneh, have appealed to Japan to invest in its expanding market of 62 million people.
Masuda has said that although his country would be able to develop relations with Iran in the fields of oil, petrochemicals, road construction and small industry, Iran would have to "facilitate the conditions for collaboration."
He cited the time it takes to get approval for a visa, as well as the difficulties in transferring money and the multiple taxes in Iran as major concerns for Japanese businessmen.
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. ― (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )