M’sia and Iran back in business


Warm welcome: Rouhani inspecting the Malaysian guard-of-honour during a welcoming ceremony in Putrajaya. — EPA

PUTRAJAYA: With international sanctions on Iran removed, Putrajaya and Tehran want economic ties between the two countries revived and returned to normal.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said both agreed to have their central banks work together on getting straight back to business.

At a joint press conference at Perdana Putra yesterday with visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the Prime Minister said he wanted economic and business ties enhanced.

He said transactions between the countries need to be enabled and that the central banks “need to find a workable, new mechanism” to allow the private sector there and here to conduct business efficiently.

“I am confident a new mechanism will be found in the shortest possible time,” he added.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said international sanctions on Iran caused bilateral trade to decline steeply.

“For example, between January and June our trade with Iran was about RM1.03bil, which is half of what it used to be.

“So we agreed that our immediate objective is to double our trade in the shortest possible time, and to even go beyond that in subsequent years,” he said.

On the issue of palm oil, Najib said a delegation led by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mah Siew Keong and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) will visit Iran soon to make a presentation on the benefits of the commodity.

“Iran is a big importer of Malaysian palm oil. There are some issues but we are confident that we have a strong scientific basis to show that palm oil is safe, healthy and nutritional,” he said.

MPOB will open a regional office in Tehran by the first quarter of next year, he added.

The Prime Minister expressed Malaysia’s interest in investing in the oil and gas sector, highway construction and automotive industry over there.

Both leaders also agreed to promote travel between their countries, noting that the number of visitors had declined.

Concerning the Muslim world, Najib and Rouhani affirmed co-operation between the two countries to work towards “greater stability and peace” despite belonging to different Islamic schools of thought.

“We both emphasise that Islam, whether Syiah or Sunni, have the same aims and objectives,” Rouhani said.

He said that in the post-sanctions era, there were big amounts of investment flowing into Iran, and that the republic was interested in attracting Malaysian investments.

The Iranian leader was on his first official visit to Malaysia since being elected president in 2013.


   

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