Iran's trade opportunities and challenges with African nations
A webinar was held on Wednesday about Iran's trade opportunities with African nations, covering the countries of Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia.
It was the second webinar held this year by the Tehran Chamber of Commerce about Iran’s economic challenges and opportunities with the continent.
Iranian ambassadors to the three African countries described ways to expand trade with these three lesser-known markets for Iranian investors and entrepreneurs.
The virtual event was attended by nearly 100 entrepreneurs and business owners in Iran.
In June, Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce held another webinar aimed at familiarizing business executives from Iran with the markets of Kenya, Senegal and Mali.
Hesamuddin Hallaj, vice president for international affairs at the Tehran Chamber of Commerce said Iranian companies and investors have little knowledge of Africa’s fast-growing markets and the chamber is trying to familiarize and encourage trade with the continent.
He noted that statistics show that over the past year, the value of Iran's
foreign trade with the three African countries of Nigeria, South Africa and
Tunisia did not exceed $ 700 million, while other neighboring countries, including
Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are far ahead of Iran in their trade ties.
Iran's ambassador to South Africa, Mehdi Aghajafari, who is also Iran’s ambassador to Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola, described Africa as a “continent of opportunities”, which he said Iran has failed to utilize.
He said other emerging powers in the region and other parts of the world are dramatically expanding their presence in this market.
Iran's ambassador to South Africa stressed that there is currently no
banking relationship between Iran and Africa, citing US sanctions as another
factor for Iran's weak economic ties with the continent.
The Iranian ambassador said the lack of infrastructure is one of the main obstacles in the development of trade between Iran and the African continent, stating that Iran does not have a direct air or ship route with any of the African countries.
Iran plans to make use of government agencies, private sector and international institutions to expand with trade with Africa.
Iran exported $642 million worth of commodities to Africa from 2018 to 2019, and imported goods worth $16 million from Africa in return, according to trade data.
Experts say trade and economic cooperation between Iran and African nations are far less than the capacities and mutual interests of the two sides.
They say the main obstacles for trade between Iran and Africa is the lack of direct sea and air transportation infrastructures, high marketing and transportation costs.
In today’s multi-polar world, Africa is no longer a land of exploitation. It's rather a hub of business activity and investments.
The United States knows it, Europe knows it, and most of all China knows it. Across the whole African continent, Chinese enterprises are investing heavily in crucial transportation and network infrastructure.
Gone are the days when Africa was known just for war, poverty, Ebola, and diamond mines.
Africa’s youth today are well informed and are headed in the right direction. They are starting businesses, launching apps and software, initiating major business ventures and entrepreneurial projects.