Iran wants foreigners to invest in the country, Vice President Hassan Habibi said Saturday at the opening of Tehran's 26th international fair, which was attended for the first time in two decades by US companies.
"We must first develop non-oil exports and cut the cost of trade. Iran encourages and wants to help foreign partners invest, in particular Iranians living abroad," Habibi said.
Iran recently eased laws on foreign investment, which has been almost impossible in Iran since the creation of the Islamic republic in 1979.
"We have to create new means of exporting, to develop tourism, export our technology and our medical expertise, and we have to raise the quality level of our products," Habibi said.
"One year ago, the price of oil was falling. There has been drought, and the country has experienced problems. But the rise in oil revenues which has followed and given unprecedented revenues to the treasury to match has given contradictory result," he stressed, adding that Iran has "paid its debts on time."
Iran is the world's second largest oil exporter and 90 percent of its earnings are from oil.
Habibi said that as far as the government was concerned "relations with the European Union, Arab countries, Asian and Latin American nations" were the most important.
Referring to the US embargo on Iran -- which was partially lifted for certain non-oil products six months ago, although still in force for oil -- Habibi said: "Our trade and economic partners should address this issue. This problem has caused certain losses for Iran, but has caused irreperable damage for the United States."
"Such an embargo will never divert us from our principles," Habibi said.
The five US companies at the fair, producers of air-conditioning systems, glassware, cosmetics and loudspeakers, are the first to be directly represented in Iran since 1979. In previous years, US firms were represented only as part of Canadian companies.
British Trade Minister Richard Caborn arrived at the fair Friday and German Economy Minister Werner Mueller is due Sunday. There are 74 countries represented at the event, a third of them are European. - (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)