A delegation of the Afghan private sector met the new Ambassador of the Islamic Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Aboulfazl Zouhrawand, at a dinner reception in the Iranian Embassy on May 8th. The delegation was comprised of board members from the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) as well as representatives of Afghan companies. The participants discussed the current challenges of the Afghan-Iranian business relations and agreed on joint projects like the Afghan – Iran Exhibition, which will be hold in Kabul in the middle of June.
At the meeting both sides emphasized that there is a great potential to expand the business relations between both countries. Therefore, well-known obstacles in the field of customs, transportation and visa application have to be removed. Furthermore, the Afghan representatives asked the Iranian side to further invest in priority sectors like mining, oil purification and agriculture.
The Senior Board Advisor of ACCI, Mr. Azaraksh Hafizi, underlined this demand: “In the last ten years billion of dollars have been spent in Afghanistan without investing in infrastructure and key industries.” He believes that the country will face serious challenges after the withdrawal of the military forces in 2014. Hence Mr. Hafizi asked the Iranian side to expand investments in Afghanistan.
The Iranian Ambassador, Mr. Zouhrawand, answered on this request that Iran has supported its Afghan brothers since the civil war began and assured that the support will be continued. In this regard, he came up with the idea to establish industrial parks next to the border of the two countries. Mr. Zouhrawand expressed the hope that the industrial parks could accelerate economic growth and enhance the security situation in the border region.
The meeting furthermore provided the opportunity to business representatives to present their problems to Iranian diplomats. One issue raised, especially by traders, was the issuing of visa. In response, the Ambassador instructed his consulate to issue even multiple visas on the basis of a recommendation letter of ACCI, which proves the credibility of the entrepreneur. Another claim from the traders was to increase the working hours for the Milak custom station.
In this regard, the Iranian Embassy clarified that the problem lies on the Afghan side of the border post, which lacks skilled personal and professional equipment. In order to facilitate the transit of Afghan products, the Iranian Business Attaché, Mr. Javanmard Qasab, promised to support the extension of the Chabahar Port in Iran which serves as shipping point for Afghan traders. He announced that the building of a storage room would facilitate the transfer of goods through Chabahar Port.
At the end of the meeting the Iranian Embassy and ACCI announced that they will organize a joint Afghan – Iran Exhibition in Kabul in the middle of June. The exhibition will bring companies from both sides of the border together and will serve as a starting point for organizing a regional exhibition under the roof of the regional economic cooperation ECO.
About new Iranian Ambassador
Mr. Zuhrawand worked as a General Consul in Mazar-e-Sharif from 1992 to 1997, before he became a Senior Advisor for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2000. In the last ten years Mr. Zuhrawand continued his career as Ambassador in Italy and as a media advisor for the National Security Advisor, Mr. Saeed Jalili.