SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Korea Bizwire) – Iran is seeking a long-term commitment from South Korean firms to invest in the Middle Eastern country as it puts behind crippling international sanctions and strives for sustainable growth, Tehran’s envoy to Seoul said Thursday.
In an interview with Yonhap News Agency, Hassan Teherian said Iran wants South Korean companies to stay for the long haul and said joint investments could help businesses secure active roles down the road.
He said that this form of approach is necessary because the Iranian market today is not the same as it was before.
“Iran is now a competitive market with many companies aggressively seeking to make inroads and start businesses following the lifting of sanctions,” the envoy said.
Tehran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany reached a landmark accord last year that called on Iran to halt all nuclear programs in exchange for lifting restrictions to trade and financial transactions.
Seoul as a member of the international community took part in imposing sanctions from 2010 onwards, and joined the others in ending the embargo last month.
Teherian pointed out that in the crude and gas sector alone, Iran is pursuing 50 new projects, which could be worth US$185 billion over the next five years.’
“Because of such opportunities, Iran is an attractive destination for foreign companies,” he claimed. “I hope South Korean companies will seek to enter the Iranian market.”
On the issue of South Korea’s No. 1 steelmaker POSCO wanting to build a mill in the oil-rich country, the ambassador said at the moment, the Iranian government has a positive approach towards this company which it thinks can transfer new technology in the steel industry to Iran.
He said Iran wants POSCO to actively play a part by engaging in attractive projects that will benefit all sides.
The diplomat then touched on two-way financial cooperation and expressed hopes that bank-related relations will improve down the road.
“With broader relations expected to improve, it is only natural for banks to work more closely together,” he said. “Iran wants to expand banking ties with South Korea.”
To that end, Tehran wants Bank Mellat’s operations to return to normal as soon as possible, he said, expressing appreciation for the cooperation shown by Seoul to get the bank running again.
With two-way trade and investment moving forward, it may be possible for other Iranian banks to set up operations in Seoul, the ambassador said.
On Iran’s oil production target, Teherian said the country wants to push up exports of its fossil fuel resources to levels before the sanctions took effect, and that it wants to regain its previous status as an oil exporting country.
He, however, made clear that the country will operate under the standards set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
On the prospects of Iranian firms making inroads into South Korea, the ambassador said after the sanctions went into effect many Iranian companies were privatized, and that the government welcomes such companies to make investments into other countries.