Iranian trade team to visit Britain despite restrictions

January 26th, 2009 - 8:19 am ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 26, (IANS) An Iranian trade delegation will visit here next month to boost economic cooperation with their counterparts in Britain, IRNA reported.Martin Johnston, director general of the London-based British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, said the Iranian delegation will arrive here in the first week of February to hold trade talks.

Johnston said businesses between Iran and Britain grew in 2008 despite UN sanctions and other restrictions.

“According to government statistics, more than 360 million pounds (about $493 million) worth of British goods have been exported to Iran in 2008,” he said, adding that the figure indicates one-percent growth when compared with the previous year.

Indirect exports to Iran has also increased, as Britain’s exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) exceeded 400 million pounds in 2008, registering a 35 percent growth, the report Sunday quoted Johnston as saying.

Referring to the US sanctions on Iranian banks abroad and restrictions imposed by the European Union (EU) on British banks in their transactions with Iranian counterparts, Johnston said his chamber has managed to find “practical ways” of facilitating commerce between the two countries.

“Iranian and British businessmen are keen and resourceful in conducting direct and indirect ties. However, EU and UN rules and regulations prevent us from trading with Iranian banks,” he said, adding that transactions are now taking place through a third party, which is the UAE.

Yousef Daneshvar, deputy chairman of the Chamber, said more than 8,000 Iranian companies are operating in the UAE, proving a “good opportunity for British businessmen to trade with Iranian counterparts”.

He noted that despite US sanctions on Iran, the country’s trade is continuing with Britain through the free trade zones in the Emirates.

“Between five to 10 percent commission is given to the UAE so that the trade between Iran and Britain continue,” he added.

Daneshvar said dry and fresh fruits account for the highest amount of exports from Iran to Britain, while spare parts, mainly in the oil and petrochemical sectors, are imported to Iran from Britain.

He said due to last year’s cold weather across Iran, exports of dried fruits such as saffron and nuts have declined.

The British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce is a non-governmental organisation, which aims to improve trade ties with Iran.

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