The government of Iran is seeking to explore more business opportunities with the Philippines in the areas of banana importation, infrastructure and energy projects, and banking, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Wednesday.
In a recent courtesy call on Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, Iranian Ambassador to Manila Mohammad Tanhaei said he has been coordinating with local business groups like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) to explore areas of investment for Iranian companies.
“In the private sector—for example, regarding bananas—there are some big companies that said we still need more bananas from the Philippines,” he said.
Filipino banana producers used to export 30 percent of their produce to Iran.
The past United Nations trade restrictions imposed on Tehran, however, led to a decline in Philippine shipments to Iran.
“The recent lifting of the trade sanctions could mean Iran might once again be one of the Philippines’ largest markets for its fresh banana exports,” the DOF said.
Tanhaei noted Iranian companies are interested in investing in the Philippines, particularly in infrastructure, power transmission and water purification.
The Iranian government has expressed interest in working with the Philippines’ energy sector, particularly in the fields of oil exploration and the petroleum product trade, Tanhaei said.
Tehran also wants to strengthen connections between its Central Bank and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to pave the way for Iranian investors to start doing business in the Philippines.
The ambassador informed Dominguez that a deputy minister of Iran’s Finance Ministry would be visiting the country in the first week of November to discuss with Philippine officials a framework of cooperation between Manila and Tehran.
Tanhaei is inviting the head of Iran’s Central Bank to visit the Philippines to discuss issues on banking cooperation with the BSP.
“We do want to improve our relationship with Iran and we would be very happy to meet your Central Bank governor,” Dominguez said.
Tanhaei noted Manila and Tehran enjoy strong political relations, but can do more in reinforcing economic ties, citing the Philippines as one of Iran’s “country priorities.”
The Iranian ambassador also raised the possibility of establishing branches of Iranian banks in the Philippines and for the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) to do the same in Iran, citing the need to provide banking facilities for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in this Western Asian country.
Dominguez told Tanhaei he will look into the ambassador’s proposal on the establishment of LandBank branches in Iran for the benefit of OFWs.
Diplomatic relations between Manila and Tehran were established on January 22, 1964.
Iran has consistently supported the peace process in Mindanao and backed the Philippines’ application for observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).