India studying preferential trade pact with Iran
(The Economic Times) - Notwithstanding U.S. pressure to curtail trade with Iran, India on Wednesday gave a strong signal that it would rather scale up its commercial engagement with Tehran possibly through a bilateral preferential trade pact.
While India conveyed its intention to step up economic ties with Iran, leader of a high-level visiting trade delegation from Tehran said the two countries should work together without bothering whether "others like or do not like...”
"The fact is that the economies of India and Iran should work together. Others like or do not like, we should work together and everybody should think for their interests," President of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines Yahya Al Es’hagh said after meeting with Assocham in New Delhi.
Addressing the meeting, Joint Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Arvind Mehta said that the Indian government has commissioned a study for a preferential trading arrangement with Iran. The bilateral trade was 14 billion in 2010-11, of which major part is the Indian import of crude oil.
In the wake of sanctions from the U.S. and EU, Iran is looking for increased imports from India. However, the two countries still face problems with regard to banking transactions for which Iran has sought permission to open a branch of Parsian Bank in Mumbai.
The visit by the 56-member Iranian trade delegation coincided with that of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
At a joint press conference with Clinton, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said, Iran is "one of the critical destinations for our external trade". India's exports to the Persian Gulf region were about 100 billion dollars.
Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar on Tuesday assured the Iran business persons of resolving their problems, including setting up of Parsian Bank in India.