China Increases BRI Investments Into Iran By 150%

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China’s Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Tehran, Xu Qisong has said that China’s investment in Iran increased by 150% in 2022, according to the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (TCCIMA).

Speaking in a meeting with TCCIMA Secretary General Bahman Eshghi on Sunday, Xu said the growth in investment has exceeded the average volume of Chinese investment in other countries. He also noted that the number of contracts signed between the two countries for cooperation in oil and gas field development projects has also increased by a factor of ten during 2022.

Eshghi stated the need for further development of cooperation between the two sides in order to recognize the business opportunities of economic enterprises from the two countries, and underlined the importance of creating various platforms for smoothing trade and joint investments between economic operators and companies of the two countries.

Referring to China’s growing economy, Xu said that the past 12 months had been good for Iran-China relations, adding that during the meeting between the leaders of the two countries, important agreements were made, including the implementation of the 25-year cooperation agreement between the two countries, and a number of bilateral cooperation documents were signed in the fields of agriculture, tourism, culture, relief, and security.

“In 2022, bilateral trade between China and Iran reached US$15.8 billion, an increase of 7% compared to the same period of the previous year. China has been Iran’s largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years. Accordingly, we welcome and support the private sector of Iran to attend Chinese trade fairs and increase cooperation”, Xu stated.

Majid-Reza Hariri, the head of the Iran-China Joint Chamber, also emphasized the desire of Iran’s private sector to develop business relations with China, but said there are obstacles. Issuing visas for Iranian businessmen, especially for their presence at trade fairs in China, is associated with problems, and facilitating it will definitely help the development of relations between the two sides. However this is expected to relax in coming months as China gradually opens up after three years of covid.

According to the data released by China’s customs administration, the value of trade between Iran and China reached US$5.23 billion in the first four months of 2023, indicating an overall annual trade figure could be slightly more than 2022.

But there are trade issues. Iran’s exports to China in 4M 2023 declined by 39% compared to the same period last year, reaching US$1.52 billion. In the same period last year, China imported US$2.49 billion of goods from Iran. China’s exports to Iran, however, increased by 46% and reached US$3.71 billion. China exported US$2.53 billion worth of commodities to Iran during January-April last year.

Back in December 2022, Iran and China finalized 16 memorandums of understanding (MOU) under the framework of the two countries’ strategic 25-year agreement. There will be pressures to see these come to fruition to bridge the new trade gap between the two countries.

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