Iran and Russia unleash a contractual tsunami in several meetings

Iran and Russia unleash a contractual tsunami in several meetings
Iranian and Russian companies, government officials and military chiefs are in a series of discussions over future deals in Tehran, Moscow and Astrakhan this week. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelIiNews September 20, 2023

More than 30 Russian companies and officials have flown to Tehran to begin negotiations with Iranian counterparts in a latest flurry of bilateral meetings, RIA Novosti reported on September 19.

Trade between Russia and Iran is growing exponentially, with contracts and deals in several sectors kicking in every month. From visas and tourism to soft drinks exports and even automotive sector deals between national manufacturers, the two Caspian Sea neighbours, now both pariahs amid the Western-led order, are increasingly stuck with each other, fearing the West more than each other. 

As part of the latest emergency trip to shore up its economy, the Kremlin has organised a two-day multi-industry business mission of Russian companies led by the Russian Export Centre (REC Group).

The event in Tehran was hosted by the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines and is the latest in a string of events created by Iran to entice Russian businesses and investors to partner up.

“Twenty nine Russian companies came to Tehran to present their products: manufacturers of food products, fertilisers, specialised equipment, construction and medical companies, suppliers of IT technologies and more,” the Chamber said in a statement.

Exporters have already held more than 220 meetings with potential Iranian partners, chair of Russian businesses groups of Iran, Rostam Zhiganshin said.

He added that representatives of Iran's Ministry of Agriculture, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) and Iran's banking sector have met with counterparts.

The Mayor of Karaj, a city with a population of 2mn to the west of Tehran, has announced that a specialised expert team from Moscow City Council will be visiting to sign a memorandum on technical lighting infrastructure. This is part of a collaborative effort between the two cities.

Mayor Mehrdad Kiani said on September 19 on the sidelines of the specialised meeting at Moscow’s Zodiac Institute that Karaj would use the skills of the Russians to support their municipal lighting infrastructure.

He added: “We are looking to use the experiences of the Moscow Municipality in the field of urban beautification and lighting for Karaj metropolis.”

Meanwhile, the head of the North Khorasan Chamber of Commerce said a delegation of 28 investors headed to Moscow on September 19 with the specific aim of signing trade deals.

Maziar Zand stated: "This delegation, consisting of 22 members from the private sector of the province, spans various sectors including industry, agriculture, mining, and trade."

Among the planned activities for the delegation are meetings with the Iranian ambassador in Moscow, interactions with the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, engagements with the Iran-Russia Trade Relations Council, and meetings with officials and traders from the Kaluga region.

Zand highlighted the presence of several key figures on this trip, including the governor of North Khorasan, the director-general of industry, mining and trade, representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the head of the Agricultural Jihad Organisation, the CEO of the Industrial Towns Company, the director-general of the Environmental Protection Agency, the mayor, members of the city council, the director-general of the Science and Technology Park, and the director-general of cultural heritage.

Earlier, on September 20, Iran and Russia announced the first visa-free group tour of Dagestan as part of a push by Russia to entice Iranians back to ancient lands — albeit in the form of visitors this time.

Iran has historical ties with Dagestan's oldest city Derbent (meaning “gateway” in Persian) that can be traced back to ancient Persia, when the region was a crucial strategic outpost for various Iranian dynasties. The region was occupied by Russia in the 17th century.

Nikita Kondratyev, director of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation of Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, announced the first trip as part of a change in visa rules for tour groups from the Islamic Republic.

Meanwhile, Iran is toying with the idea of letting Russians stay at its azure blue resort island of Kish, created by the shah of Iran in the 1970s and the blueprint for what Dubai became across the water. However, to date, only a trickle of Russian tourists have visited the island, with people citing the lack of alcohol and hijab rules—although less stringent on the island than what's usually encountered in Iran—as reasons they would prefer to holiday in Turkey.

In the realm of international commerce, on September 7, a bank based in Russia established a SWIFT-duplicate communication channel that runs from Moscow to Tehran.

The development by Russia's Sber Bank is the first direct challenge to the Belgium-based financial channel, which has blocked both Iranian and Russian banks from sending financial messages to each other.

In May, it was announced by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) that two Iranian banks had set up representative offices in Russia.

The deputy international manager of the CBI, Mohsen Karimi, disclosed the development a day after Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB Bank, opened a representative office in Tehran, marking the first such move of a well-known Russian commercial lender into Iran.