Head of Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce says Iran’s trade with China is declining every year and Iran is not currently China’s first trade partner in the Middle East and it has dropped out of its top five partners in the region.
Speaking to ILNA news agency, Majid Reza Hariri said until 7 or 8 years ago Iran was China’s first trade partner in the Middle East and the West Asia, but unfortunately every year the its trade volume with China is declining and Iran is no longer even among China’s top five trade partners in the region.
On the impacts of sanctions on the trade relation between Iran and China, he said China is still Iran’s first trade partner either in import or export and Iran’s foreign trade including with China has been under influence of the sanctions and removal of the sanctions is a new horizon for the country to work with more partners and countries in the world and even in China.
He added that Iran has two options on the sanctions: one is to continue talks seriously to remove sanctions or not to tie the domestic affairs to the removal of sanctions.
"50% chance of removing sanctions is in Iran’s hands and the other half depends on the other side, the West, therefore removal of the sanctions is not fully in hands of Iran," he confirmed.
Hariri reiterated that Iranians should get valid guarantee for removal of the sanctions because they have a bitter experience from the past and the West may reimpose sanctions.
He said when the country is in sanctions, it has a few options even in talks with the Chinese, by the way since major Chinese companies are active in the international scene, they are not easily ready to work with Iranians.
"Iran and China have faced problems in advancing their joint projects which were to be financed."
Hariri reiterated that China is not apart from the world and it is currently the second economy in the world and its trade exchanges with the world is several times more than with Iran and for this reason sanctions definitely cause restrictions for China’s trade with Iran.
He then pointed to the amount of China’s trade with the world, saying that China’s share from the international trade is over $4,500b per year and therefore big Chinese companies are not ready to harm their international trade just for trade with Iran.
The Iranian official reiterated it does not mean that any big and reputable Chinese company is not ready to work with Iran and if it wants to work it has to pretend that it is reluctant in order to escape any scrutiny and possible sanctions.
Hariri said that since Iran’s oil sales to China have slowed down due to the sanctions, China buys oil from other countries in the Persian Gulf and therefore its trade with those countries is rising and for this reason the Persian Gulf states have become China’s top trade partners in the region and Iran is not among the top five China’s trade partners in the region.
He noted that the fate of the JCPOA and Vienna talks can determine the fate of trade and economic cooperation of Iran in the region and countries will come out of the current indecisiveness.
Hariri also said Iran should prepare itself for any outcome of the talks and prepare its plans for any scenario.
"The country should design a mechanism in order to convert the earned forex from exports into the available forex for imports."
He admitted when the number of export destinations is restricted, the avenues for imports are also restricted and therefore the country should find a link for exchange of forex between importers and exporters.