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New Trade Strategy Under Final Review
Amended Labor Law Should Help Create Jobs
Expats’ Capital Can Improve Privatization
Steel Industry Facing Serious Shortages
Mashhad Hosts Electronic Fairs
Uganda Trade Center Planned
Iran Khodro Plans Samand Export to Russia
Greece Keen on Broader Ties

New Trade Strategy Under Final Review
TEHRAN, Sept. 1--A senior Commerce Ministry official said here on Friday that the cabinet has returned the country’s draft trade regime to relevant ministries and organizations for further study.
Mostafa Sarmadi, deputy commerce minister for international affairs, told Fars that the cabinet’s economic commission, after studying the report on trade regime, decided to return it to, particularly, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, Management and Planning Organization and Central Bank of Iran.
He said the state bodies are expected to announce their final views on the issue within two weeks.
“After cabinet approval, the trade regime will be submitted to the World Trade Organization’s Secretariat,“ he said, adding that the English version of the report has also been prepared.
Asked whether the report would also require parliamentary study, the official said that trade regime reflects the latest situation of the national economy and will not have to be discussed by lawmakers.
Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said earlier that the country’s trade regime has been drawn up and that relevant talks are underway on various aspects of the document.
“When the government is finished with (experts studies on) the trade regime, it will be submitted to the World Trade Organization,“ he said.
The official said the Malaysian envoy to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been chosen as the head of Iran’s working group for WTO accession.
“The working group will also announce its expert views regarding the country’s trade regime,“ he added.
Iran currently has an observer status at the World Trade Organization.

Amended Labor Law Should Help Create Jobs
The draft law will not be submitted to the government and the parliament as long as it lacks expert views of the workers' community and the employers.
TEHRAN, Sept. 1--Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mohammad Jahromi said here on Thursday that the proposed amendments to the Labor Law should take account of greater job security for contractual workers, adding that the modified version of the law must help boost employment.
According to IRNA, the minister further said the government has to create three million jobs given the growing imbalances between supply and demand in the job market in recent years.
“This will be attainable by attracting investments, rectifying rules and regulations and facilitating the business environment,“ he said, adding that oil revenues must be invested in the manufacturing sector rather than on subsidies.
The minister further noted that the government has been committed under the Fourth Plan (2005-2010) to amend the Labor Law, adding that the undertaking demands cooperation and effective collaboration of workers and employers associations.
He said the amendments should enhance job security for workers and help create a more meaningful correlation between the concepts of production and productivity.
Last month, the minister said the draft amendments to the Labor Law will not be submitted to the government and the parliament as long as it lacks expert views of the workers’ community and the employers.
The minister told reporters that lawmakers have been positive on the outlines of the draft.
“We believe that the Labor Law is a comprehensive law which needs partial amendments to improve productivity rate,“ he said, adding that in the past 15 years when the same law has been in force, workers with temporary contracts have not received any attention.
He said the draft is expected to be submitted to the government within the next 1-2 months.
Published estimates suggest that some 56 percent of the existing contracts are temporary. The figure is expected to reach 65 percent by next March.
Jahromi has said that the government is seeking ways to put an end to the dilemma of temporary contracts.

Expats’ Capital Can Improve Privatization
TEHRAN, Sept. 1--Privatization drive will gain momentum once Iranian expatriates begin to invest in their motherland, said a lawmaker here on Friday.
Hadi Haqshenas, a member of Majlis Plan, Budget and Audit Commission, told ISNA that Iranian nationals residing abroad hold significant assets, stressing that many invested their capital in other countries following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
“Statistics at hand suggest that close to $10 billion (of goods) were re-exported into Iran last year,“ he said, adding that multinational companies, particularly Iranian firms, are involved in export of goods into the country from Dubai.
“So if Iranian companies based in other countries, particularly Dubai, are encouraged to move to (the southern Iran ports of) Bandar Abbas and Bandar Imam, then transportation costs will decline drastically and the national banking system will get a new lease on life,“ he explained.
The lawmaker said some 25 percent of goods re-exported into Iran via the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone in the United Arab Emirates belong to Iranian nationals.
An economic expert also said last month that if Iranian expatriates are encouraged to buy shares of state companies, the eight-percent economic growth rate will certainly materialize.
Mahmoud Jamsaz told ISNA that the ’genuine’ private sector cannot afford to purchase shares of state companies, stressing that the huge capital held by Iranian expatriates needs to be attracted and injected into the privatization drive.
“There are differing estimates of the expatriates’ total capital, but what is clear is that it is so huge that it will be enough to buy shares of all state companies,“ he said, adding, however, that greater economic security must be established and economic rules have to become more transparent in order to attract expatriates’ investments.
The expert said only if 10 percent of this capital arrives, things will change drastically in Iran.
According to the leader’s recent directive, some 80 percent shares of state companies should be transferred to private ownership.

Steel Industry Facing Serious Shortages
Several steel mills with a capacity of 5-6 million tons have been constructed of which only 20
percent are active.
AHVAZ, Khuzestan, Sept. 1--Supply of raw materials is the gravest challenge currently facing steel makers, said a senior steel industry official here on Friday.
Rassoul Khalifeh Soltan, secretary of the Association of Iranian Steel Manufacturers, told ISNA that only 20 percent of steel manufacturing units are currently in operation.
“Several steel mills with a total capacity of 5-6 million tons have been constructed (in recent years) of which only 20 percent are active,“ he said, adding that shortage of raw materials is the main reason why many steel manufacturers have closed their businesses.
He criticized the banking system for showing little cooperation regarding import of raw materials.
“Even foreign banks are not cooperating at the level they used to in previous years,“ he said, adding that shortage of iron has increased prices drastically in Iran.
“Today, iron prices in Iran are higher than the rates in international markets,“ he said.
A government official said earlier this week that importers face no restriction in importing iron.
Ahmad Taheri, a deputy commerce minister, told ISNA that the iron market is in pressing need of imports, stressing that it does not matter whether iron imports are handled by the state sector or by private companies.
“There are no restrictions on iron imports,“ he said, adding that the ministry has lowered relevant duties to zero to facilitate iron imports.
Asked why the ministry had earlier refused to support iron imports, Taheri said the ministry had only prevented the import of substandard iron.
He rejected reports that the ministry is interfering in iron distribution system.
The Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran (ISIRI) has reportedly blocked the import of 130,000 tons of Russian iron, which has been stocked in customs warehouses, citing ’inferior quality’ of the product for the decision.

Mashhad Hosts Electronic Fairs
MASHHAD, Khorasan Razavi, Sept. 1--The 9th International Computer Exhibition and the 7th International Office Machines Exhibition opened at Mashhad International Fairgrounds on Thursday, IRNA reported.
A specialized exhibition on cellular phones, the first of its kind in Iran, also started at the same venue simultaneously, the report added.
Inaugurating the fairs, Abdolmajid Riazi, deputy minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), said that supporting and developing communications infrastructure are among the ministry’s priorities, stressing that trained workforce, network security and proper laws play a crucial role in achieving ICT objectives.
Meanwhile, a senior IT official said at the ceremony that the private sector should be encouraged to invest in the IT sector, noting that cooperation of state-run and private companies will entail economic prosperity.
Mohammad Saeed Naeini, who heads the State Organization for Computer Associations, said that holding such exhibitions will contribute to greater interactions between producers and customers and will help develop the sector.
More than 170 domestic and foreign companies are exhibiting their products at the five-day event.

Uganda Trade Center Planned
TEHRAN, Sept. 1--Cooperatives sector will establish a government-backed trade complex in the Republic of Uganda to increase business exchanges between the two friendly states, reported Fars on Friday.
According to the Public Relations Office of the Central Cooperatives Chamber, the decision was announced during a meeting between Mohammad Reza Ramezani, secretary general of the State Cooperatives Chamber, and Mohammad A. Kisuule, Ugandan ambassador to Tehran.
It said the two officials also underlined the need to expand economic cooperation between the two states.
Ramezani referred to the three-million-dollar annual trade between the two countries and added that the figure is expected to rise.
He also expressed Iran’s readiness to expand its cooperation with the East African republic in the agriculture, industry and fisheries sectors.
Referring to the age-old mutual relations between the two states, the Ugandan ambassador, for his part, expressed his country’s support for Iranian investors.

Iran Khodro Plans Samand Export to Russia
A Samand assembly line became operational in Minsk recently.
MOSCOW, Sept. 1--Middle East’s largest carmaker Iran Khodro has announced plans to export new Samand and Peugeot models to Russia next year.
Manouchehr Manteqi, the company’s managing director, told IRNA in Moscow that Iran Khodro views the former Soviet state as a promising market for future products, stressing that the carmaker will try its best to boost its presence in Russia’s demanding auto market.
He said Iran Khodro has already set up 22 sales centers in Russian cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, adding that the number is expected to reach 50 by next March as per schedule.
“We have studied various features of the Russia (auto) market for a year and have found it quite suitable to expand our activities there,“ he said, adding that Iran Khodro is planning to export 15,000 cars to Russia next year.
He further noted that exports to Russia of Iran-assembled Peugeot 206 models will resume in the near future, stressing that the company is also exporting the popular car to Algeria and Turkey.
Manteqi said Iran is the second largest auto market for Peugeot after France, adding that the giant French carmaker regards Iran as a strategic export hub in the region.
Iran Khodro has established Samand assembly lines in several countries. It also exports the modern sedan to a number of countries.
A Samand assembly line became operational in Minsk recently following the start of production in Azerbaijan Republic on May 31.
Iran Khodro announced earlier that the national car will also be produced in the former Soviet republics of Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and some East European states.
It said there are plans to export Samand to Vietnam and Bangladesh making it the first Iranian car to hit markets in Asia and the Pacific. Right-hand drive Samand models will be manufactured from 2008.
Samand cars to be produced in Venezuela will also be exported to other Latin American countries.

Greece Keen on Broader Ties
ATHENS, Greece, Sept. 1--Visiting head of Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce, Mohammad Nahavandian here Thursday conferred with his counterpart from Athens Commerce Chamber Konstantinos Mikhalos on ways of expanding bilateral economic relations, IRNA reported.
Expounding on Iran’s economic potentialities, Nahavandian said that historical ties between the two countries offers great space for various economic activities including those in the tourism, energy, and transportation sectors.
Referring to the recent reading of Article 44 of Iran’s Constitution, as a turning point in the national economy, he said that accordingly the government is obliged to privatize 80 percent of state-owned companies and reduce its role in management of state firms.
He invited Greek businessmen and investors to take part in Iranian economic projects.
In the meeting, Mikhalos described Iran as an important country in the region and expressed his eagerness to witness expansion of economic relations with Tehran.
He referred to tourism as the most important sector of potential cooperation noting that Greece enjoys good experience in this field.
Mikhalos welcomed Nahavandian’s invitation to visit Tehran.