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Economic diplomats and economic activities

In need of a road - map

Economic diplomats play an important positive role in the improvement of iran’s business transactions. However, they have not fully realized the desired expectations particularly those of the private sector.

Gholamhossein Shafi

Economic diplomats play an important positive role in the improvement of iran's business transactions. However, they have not fully realized the desired expectations particularly those of the private sector. While selecting economic diplomats, the first and the most important criterion seems to be their education and expertise in economics. The second important issue is that due to the significance of their missions, economic diplomats should draw a boundary between their economic activities and those political functions which are performed by Iranian embassies. The least includes familiarizing themselves with the laws and regulations of the target country and transfer them to economic activists. The results of surveys conducted about the socio-cultural conditions of that country can also create advantages for economic activists and the private sector.
Awareness of those laws may solve critical problems including how to enter the destination and penetrate into its markets. Besides, it helps economic activists make more progress in their efforts.
The other important issue relates to the vitality of creating permanent strong ties with chambers of commerce throughout Iran. So far the bonds have been flimsy and, in some cases, torn apart. That is why it is crucial for economic diplomats to retain their close cooperation with the international departments of the chambers of commerce.
Establishment of relations between provinces of Iran and target countries is another important task which economic diplomats are expected to fulfill. Ties between capitals may be necessary but they are not sufficient. They should extend beyond capitals and involve all private sector activists in the origin and destination countries.
Unfortunately, the correspondence between economic diplomats and private sector has so far been weak and it is the responsibility of the ministry of Mines, Industry, and Trade to shoulder the task. The very dominance of government, as rooted in traditions, has prevailed in business environment for long. This relates to lack of trust by the government to the private sector or absence of a clear definition for close relations between private and public sectors. There were cases in which delegations had been sent to some provinces without having studied the conditions or many business delegations had been sent to a certain destination at the same time. In our visit with economic diplomats, we insisted that a comprehensive road-map to be designed so that better business activities could lie on future perspectives.
In our road-map, we recommended the economic diplomats to ascertain the first ۱۰ or ۱۵ priorities. Then, an information bank should be established and offered to the private sector. This bank incorporates all necessary information concerning rules and regulations to assist firms in their decision-making processes. The other merit relates to the coordination between businessmen in both countries. Inappropriate relations have sometimes resulted in damages to business and emergence of outcomes contradictory to previous expectations. We believe economic partners in both countries can form unions so as to share information and help business to flourish.
We hope that economic diplomats can facilitate business activities and accelerate the process of decision-making for entry into target markets. They can play a vital role in maximizing the volume of trade. In addition, it should be borne in mind that economic diplomats are expected to fulfill another task which includes solving the problems faced by businessmen. With the cooperation of embassies, they can find solutions to business disputes and reduce the costs for business partners. In order to involve in business with another country, economic activists are obliged to bear some costs and study and appraise the infrastructures. Provided that economic diplomats perform the task beforehand, the former group is already one step ahead which means lower costs and fewer risks for them.
Unfortunately, due to sanctions and restrictions on economic and political relations between Iran and other countries, the number of economic diplomats has fallen considerably in recent years. There used to be active common chambers of commerce in countries where Iranian economic diplomats proved dynamic presence. We expect such situation be revitalized and demonstrate their merits more than any time before.
Last but not least, it should be reminded that lack of constructive relationship between public and private sectors in Iran sparks some speculations and rumors that economic diplomats may play the role of a medium rather than an economic facilitator. I have never come across such cases; however, I cannot deny their existence. It seems that transparency can put an end to all these ambiguities and clear the roads. Provided that the correspondence between economic diplomats, chambers of commerce, private sector activists, and businessmen is enhanced, such concerns will evaporate and positive effects will demonstrate themselves in figures and business statistics. We hope that in future, efforts made by economic diplomats result in a substantial change in figures regarding Iran' trade transactions.

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