What has been the role of IDRO in the development of the industrial sector?
IDRO was established in 1967 after the country began to industrialize. It is an organization with a long history and a true philosophy, which has played a major role in improving and promoting industry in Iran. This organization started to work 50 years ago when there was no industry in Iran, but now we can see how this sector has grown. We have conducted a lot of projects that can be divided into two parts: industrial development and the expansion of organizations. At IDRO, we support the private sector and take part in a maximum of 20% of its projects or activities, so the companies stay completely private. We help in their relation with the government in terms of permissions, financing, and so on. We have 50 projects of this kind that will be announced soon. Secondly, as the government has been supporting knowledge-based companies, we are focusing on technological companies that need money, do not know the market, or have management problems. At the moment we are developing 40 projects with these types of companies. The third thing we do is training and education for managers through the Industrial Management Institute (IMI), one of our subsidiaries. IMI is responsible of educating world-class managers and is negotiating with five world-recognized business scholars and universities. Finally, we also do company renovations, mostly for medium and small businesses with liquidity and management problems. Based on the laws of the country, the government takes control of the company and gives it to IDRO, and we have a responsibility to go and help them.
What are the main sectors where you focus your activities?
Based on my experience as Deputy Minister of Petroleum, one of IDRO's biggest priorities is the oil and gas sector. We have got many good negotiations with foreign companies to cooperate with us at the same level. We don't want foreign companies to just sell their products in Iran. For example, we negotiated with Citroën to sign a joint venture with Saipa. Citroën would bring hard currency, and Saipa the location, heavy equipment, and human resources. According to this joint venture, Saipa will produce a new model of Citroën to be sold in the local market and export 40% of the production. In the petrochemicals sector, we negotiated with German companies to sign an agreement and establish huge complexes. According to our policies in all sectors, foreign companies cannot bring finished products, and they have to cooperate with local companies to produce in Iran.
What is your involvement in national projects?
In the past IDRO built many factories and delivered them to other companies. Now we are following this policy again, but in other sectors like nanotechnology. We give guidelines to the private sector and cooperate with foreign companies that want to work in Iran because we have many young people who need jobs. We have the responsibility of making megaprojects and giving them to the private sector. In this sense, Chabahar Port is one of our interests. It is a good place for foreign investment because of the gas resources and the facilities there. We are in talks with Indian companies researching all scenarios and options. I am very optimistic that we can sign a good contract with a solid investor for the port.
What is your outlook for the growth of industry in the post-sanctions era?
After the sanctions, there is a good chance for Iran to grow. We are trying to look forward and not think about the past anymore. I am optimistic and am sure European countries will encourage their companies to come to Iran. Less than five months after the signature of the JCPOA, many foreign companies decided to invest in Iran, and some of them have signed important agreements. In one year, we will solve many problems, as the fear of European banks to invest and trade with Iran and Europe is the most interesting and biggest market for our country. They have to understand the abilities of our country, with deep cultural values and a young and well-educated society. Iran is completely different from the nearby countries in the Middle East.
What are your expectations for this year?
We have enough time until the end of the Iranian year to achieve our goals. We will continue focusing on the oil and gas market, including railway and shipping line transportation. We have one of the biggest companies for ship manufacturing in the Middle East, called Iran Shipbuilding & Offshore Industries Complex Co (ISOICO). We signed an agreement with our users, the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), to establish a joint venture company to send tankers to foreign countries, mainly India and Europe. We are also negotiating with European shipping lines for ship manufacturing. Moreover, IDRO has a good chance for participating in IPC contracts with foreign companies to develop Iranian reserves. We also have four tire and rubber companies with a capacity of 50,000 tons per annum, and we are now investing $5.6 million in its expansion.