Terms US-sponsored sanctions as unfair
Hassan Nourian, Consul General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Hyderabad, has asked Indian businessmen to shed any fears of retributions from the US, and start trading with the West Asian nation.
Pointing out that India was a big economy which has twice the landmass of Iran and 15 times Iran’s population, he said that if the US could not do anything to Iran, what would Indians have to fear the US for.
Nourian, whose office is in-charge of the southern states of India, said this at a meeting organised by the Madras Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) here on Friday, while responding to a point that India Inc was still hesitant to trade with Iran, mainly out of fear of getting on the wrong side of the US.
Such a feeling among Indian businessmen seems to be widespread.
Under a special arrangement, Iran supplies crude oil to India, the payment for which is made by Indian oil companies into an Iran account with the UCO Bank in Mumbai.
Forty-five per cent of the balance in the account can be made as payments to exporters from India who supply goods and services to Iran.
The other 55 per cent would be paid in hard currency at a later stage, after the sanctions against Iran are lifted.
Indian companies are hesitant to make use of this arrangement and supply to Iran and the biggest reason seems to be the fear of antagonising the US. Many corporate heads speak about this in private.
At the MCCI meeting today, a representative of the tractor major, TAFE, spoke about the difficulties in dealing with banks in India if the shipments are via an Iranian port.
The reason: banks fear retribution from the US.
Terming the US-sponsored sanctions against his country “unfair”, Nourian urged Indian companies to make use of the business opportunities that Iran presented.
He also pointed out that Iran afforded access to the big market of Afghanistan (which is Iran’s north-eastern neighbour) and to the CIS countries in the north.
Earlier, welcoming Nourian, the President of MCCI, T Shivaraman, spoke of the huge opportunities for economic partnership with Iran and stressed it should not be a case where “you give us oil and we send you some rice.”