Thailand, Iran agree to expand trade

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TEHRAN, Aug 29 — Thailand and Iran mutually agreed to foster bilateral trade with a barter trade deal which could be carried out in the near future, according to Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

Mr Surapong held bilateral talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi on Monday on the sidelines of the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) held in the Iranian capital.

During the discussion, both ministers stated their eagerness to foster closer bilateral relations, particularly in trade and tourism as Iran is the centre of the Middle East region and is the largest market in the region. Meanwhile, Thailand is a major food producer and plays important role in world food security.

Thailand and Iran will increase their volume of trade, particularly the basic necessities, in particular barter trade to exchange Thai rice for Iranian oil or gas.

Mr Surapong said that in the past, Iran imported rice from Thailand at about one million tonnes annually but the importing was done every other year.

The Thai minister said that he persuaded Iran to consider importing more rice from Thailand for its food security.

He said the Iranian foreign minister agreed with the idea and that Thai embassy officials in Tehran would coordinate the barter trade agreement. Mr Surapong said he was confident that the barter arrangement, if agreed, will not affect trade sanctions against Iran as rice would be exported to Iran for the people’s consumption.

The ministers also agreed to organise the 9th Thai-Iranian Joint Commission on Cooperation (JC) and Iran agreed to host the meeting.

They agreed to exchange visits by the foreign ministers in the future.