INTERNATIONAL STANDING

Iran 2017 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Gholamhossein Shafei, President of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines & Agriculture (ICCIMA), on facilitating its members' activities, improving the country's international business climate, and the growing interest from foreign investors.

 Gholamhossein Shafei
BIOGRAPHY
Gholamhossein Shafei received his bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Tehran University. He is the President of ICCIMA since September 2016 and among other positions also serves as Board Chairman of Nar Afshan Food Industries Co., Chairman of Iran National Saffron Council and Managing Director of Shafee Co., which he founded in 1987. He has been named Exemplary Producer of Iran three times. Also, he is the author of four publications on the political and investment status of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Japan.

Through which structures does ICCIMA serve its members?

ICCIMA is the largest official organization in Iran working under the laws passed by the Iranian parliament. Currently, there are over 19 specialized commissions consisting of elites from various economic sectors who offer consultation services to the board of directors. Experts gather suggestions, plans, and issues for economic growth and offer them to the members of the board of ICCIMA. These plans will later be suggested to three main branches of Iran: parliament, the government, and judiciary. Moreover, ICCIMA has more than 200 economic formations with different fields of activity. We have an arbitration center to handle disputes among our members and also take care of international economic disputes and discussions. The formation of a public-private sector dialog council was one of the best and most innovative of our activities during the past three years. It enables dialog about the economic problems and issues of Iran, and provides a platform for suggestions that can boost Iran's economy and enhance its network of international relations. The chamber covers 34 province chambers and is an active branch of the International Chamber of Commerce. Every member of ICCIMA has an activity card that certifies the company is allowed to engage in international business activity. The main purpose of ICCIMA is to facilitate the members' activities.

What are the main goals under the 10-Year Vision, which was proclaimed in 2009?

One of the goals of ICCIMA is to improve its own position within the Iranian government and to boast its international standing as well. Internationally, we achieved some of our goals and will soon reach a desirable position in the international economy. As a representative of its members, the chamber is determined to pave the way for the Iranian economic structure and to prepare the appropriate climate so that its members can participate in the various economic areas. We play an effective role in enhancing domestic business competitiveness at the regional, national, and international level. In addition, we promote the economic and social status of Iranian economic activists, entrepreneurs, and ICCIMA members. We hope to improve our international business climate ranking in the near future.

What has been the impact of the lifting of sanctions on ICCIMA and its members so far, and which sectors will particularly benefit moving forward?

The JCPOA negotiations showed Iran's inclination to interact and have dialog. We strongly believe that all issues can be solved through negotiations. The deal brought Iran into a new international situation. The signing of JCPOA lifted a heavy block from Iran's economy and opened new gates to international interactions. We had serious banking problems before that are going to be solved soon. We have seen eye-catching progress already in the financial and transport sectors and a reduction of economic risks. After the signing of JCPOA, we received many interested foreign delegations, and their high demands created problems for us in the beginning. An important point to mention is that the international market does not only have direct economic expectations of investments in Iran. With Iran's geographical position and its penetration rate in the regional economic markets, Iran would be a great and secure path to reach other markets in the region, such as Central Asia, the Caucasus, Iraq, and some parts of India and China. We also have several huge but incomplete projects in Iran, which are seeing great enthusiasm from investors from all over the world. These projects have great potential and the government has motivational plans for them. Currently, everyone is aware that the price of energy in Iran is low and it is easy to find young and educated people. This can be counted as an attraction for investors. Geographically, Iran is located in an insecure area. Yet, it is one of the safest countries in the region and this can be an advantage to economic investors as well.