Iran-Spain Chamber of Commerce is 15 years old and continues to work for the development of business, economic, commercial, industrial, and tourism ties between the two countries. This private sector organization, with 100 active members, provides essential information and investment opportunities to members and other interested applicants. On the occasion of “Fitur 2018” tourism exhibition in Madrid, the Chamber board members reviewed its latest activities and plans in a meeting with the editor of Safar International Magazine.
Iran-Spain Chamber CEO Dr. Mohammad Taheri stated that Spain is one of the most important tourism destinations in the world, and in return, Iran has many attractions for the Spaniards. “Iran-Spain Chamber of Commerce, with a record of 15 years, now has valuable experiences and can play a central role in the development of relations between the two countries.”
“With the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (known also as the Iran Nuclear Deal), economic relations with Spain began to further expand. Delegation comprising three ministers and 100 private sector representatives traveled to Iran over the past two years to examine the business environment and the development of business relations. At present, one or two business and tourism delegations from Spain visit Iran monthly. The launch of direct flights from Tehran to Barcelona has provided a great opportunity to maintain direct link between the two countries. The two sides are resolved to further consolidate bilateral relations.”
Dr. Taheri said that the people of Spain and Iran have a lot of cultural affinities and similarities. For this reason, the International Tourism Fair in Spain (Fitur 2018) can help unveil these strong features.
Commenting on the central role of Iran-Spain Chamber of Commerce in developing economic relations between the two countries, he said: “Iran-Spain Chamber of Commerce consists of entrepreneurs and private sector industry owners and has 100 active members.”
Considering the presence of an active secretariat, Taheri noted, the Chamber can provide first-hand economic, commercial, and industrial information to members in the first stage and to other interested parties in the next. “In the meantime, we maintain a good relationship with the Spanish ambassador to Iran and the Iranian ambassador to Spain.”
He further said: “Efforts are underway between the two sides to boost the numerous grounds for trade and commerce. Despite the banking hurdles, a 600 million dollar agreement was signed between Spain’s Tubacex and Iran’s NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company). “Also, on a visit we had to Spain, a senior official from CESCE
During the visit, Mojtaba Khosrowataj, Deputy Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade of Iran, said the Spanish side had announced readiness to provide the necessary credits for Iranian builders in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors.
According to Taheri, Spain is an expanding economy in Europe, and the capacity for cooperation between Tehran and Madrid is still growing. “Iran exports pistachios, saffron, dates, carpets, petroleum and petrochemicals to Spain. But with the signing of the Tubacex deal, the volume of trade in the future will reach $1.2 billion. Industrial companies from Bilbao are currently stationed in Iran, and I think there will be good cooperation in the field of petrochemical, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries in the future. Tourism, on the other hand, is an important source of income for Spain and Madrid has plans to admit immigrants. Furthermore, major banks in Spain have said they are ready to cooperate; if things go well the volume of trade could be increased to $2 billion.”
Taheri said that interaction and policy making between the two countries should proceed in three distinct directions. “First of all, to get to know each other more exchange of delegations should take place; the Spanish Embassy in Tehran and the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs should facilitate the visa formality for Iranian travelers to Spain. Iranian tourists are generally wealthy and can play a positive role in developing tourism industry between the two countries.
“The second issue is that with the help of both sides, we should increase the volume of trade exchanges and enhance travels and provide the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings.
“The third issue is the transfer of technology we need in various industries. In petroleum industry, automobiles, spare parts, and in pharmaceutical and medical industries, we can work together. Transfer of technology in different industries can take place between the two countries and tourism industry could be developed.”
Saeed Hashemi, a member of board of directors of Iran-Spain Chamber, emphasized on the development of tourism industry between the two countries, noting that tourism is part of the industry and is supported by the joint Chamber of Commerce. He said: “A significant number of the foreign tourists coming to Iran are from Spain and they are interested in visiting historical attractions in cities like Isfahan, Kashan and Yazd. Right now, there is no visa problem for the Spaniards to visit Iran. The Chamber of Commerce is fully prepared to provide the necessary consultation in order to present Iran’s capabilities to foreigners interested in entering Iran’s business space.
Mohammadi Rad ad, another member of Iran-Spain Chamber of Commerce, said in his analysis of the tourism industry in Spain that the country has the second place in terms of attracting tourists and stand on the top in the field of education so that the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization is based in this country. In Iran, it is necessary to work on the development of tourism infrastructure, especially the hotel industry, because we face some shortcomings in this regard. However, the demand for the travel market between Iran and Spain is significant. Agricultural products, machinery, and chemical fertilizers are just part of the high demand for travel between the two countries.” Mohammadi Rad added that Iran-Spain Chamber of Commerce is in the process of developing activities to expand the scope of recruiting from Spain by setting up an office in that country.
According to him, a number of Iranians are active in Spain who can become members of the Chamber and help further consolidate the Chamber.”
With the formation of such an office, administrative, banking, and communication issues as well as economic and business data would be on the right track, he said. “We expect the government to support the idea.”
Mr. Mohamadi rad explained more about Spain`s tourist attractions: It has 44 million inhabitants and the foreign tourists are 68 million, which is approximately 1.5 million more than the current tourist population. In this way, tourism income is higher than its oil revenue.
It has a very efficient infrastructure, especially in terms of transportation. Spain is the second-largest country in the world after China, which has the fastest-speed lines of travel for 350 KM/H .
It’s most historical attraction is in the Andalusia province, where Islamic and European culture is matched.
Alhambra Palace near Granada is one of the most famous attractions of this country. The Strait of Gibraltar is the gateway to Europe and Africa, with major cities in Spain, such as Barcelona, with 14 million annual tourists, followed by Madrid.
Dr. Zahra Fallah, another member of Iran-Spain Chamber of Commerce, noted the great investment opportunities in the field of medical tourism, stating that Spain’s medical products have many attractions for Iranian physicians. “We can work in the field of technology transfer and provide foreign investors with the required security assurances. There is a demand for medicine, medical and operating room equipment. Very good medical exhibitions are taking place in Barcelona and our colleagues are quite happy with the event. On the other hand, female Iranian artists and entrepreneurs are also keen to display their arts in business events such as the Fitur tourism exhibition in Madrid.”