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Japan preparing roadmap for boosting trade ties with Iran: Businessman

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A businessman says Japan is preparing a major document for expanding trade ties with Iran.

An Iranian businessman says Japan’s External Trade Organization (JETRO) is preparing a major document for expanding trade relations with Iran, saying the move is a sign that Tokyo is positive about the future of ongoing efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

“JETRO has prepared a document for cooperation with Iran and (it) is keen to expand ties. This is a sign that the Japanese have a positive view of the future,” said Bahram Shakouri, who heads Iran-Japan joint commerce committee, on Monday.

Shakouri said that economic authorities in Japan have been pressing for face-to-face meetings between Iranian and Japanese businesses as they anticipate that ties will improve in the near future with a potential easing of US sanctions on Iran.

The businessman said that Iran’s exports to Japan could increase massively from a current meager figure of below $40 million per year if normal trade ties are restored between the two countries.

Japan was a major buyer of Iranian oil before the US imposed its unilateral sanctions on Tehran in 2018. Suppliers from the East Asian country have a long history of presence in the Iranian heavy industries, including in mining and manufacturing sectors.

Japan has vowed it will swiftly restore its economic ties with Iran if American bans on banking transactions and energy trade are lifted. That comes as Japanese banks have been unable to repatriate funds owed to Iran for Japan's imports of crude that took place before US sanctions were imposed.

Shakouri said JETRO’s new document for expanding trade ties with Iran does not make any mention of the Iranian funds blocked in Japan as he insisted the issue should be resolved in higher-level talks between governments of the two countries.

Speaking to ILNA news agency, he said, however, that new JETRO plans should be viewed as a sign that Japan, a country with massive trade and economic ties with the US, is expecting a major breakthrough in ongoing nuclear deal revival talks between Iran and world powers in Austria.


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