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SBF leads largest business delegation to Iran to explore opportunities

  • The delegation will meet with the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran, who will be in Iran for an official visit, and join him for some parts of the visit
  • 57-strong business delegation comprising 48 companies set to explore opportunities in Iran, following its reintegration into the world economy
24 February 2016 [Singapore] – The Singapore Business Federation’s (SBF) Middle East Business Group (MEBG) will depart for its fifth business mission to the Islamic Republic of Iran on Friday, 26 February 2016 with Singapore’s largest business delegation to the Middle East.

Jointly organised with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the 57-strong delegation comprising 48 companies will visit Iran’s capital, Tehran and major shipping and regional transshipment hub of Bandar Abbas over five days from 26 February to 3 March 2016. These companies are from the oil and gas (offshore), petrochemicals, maritime, ports and logistics, real estate, infrastructure and tourism, info-communications technology, professional services and general trade sectors.

Led by Mr S.S. Teo, Chairman of SBF and Mr Shabbir Hassanbhai, Vice Chairman of SBF, the delegation will meet with Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), Mr S. Iswaran, who will be in Iran for an official visit, and join him for some parts of the visit. 

Commenting on the mission, Mr Teo said: “The reintegration of Iran into the world economy is a bright spark amidst the uncertain global outlook, especially during a period where some economies are experiencing drastic contractions. In contrast, some of Iran’s key industries such as oil and gas, aerospace and maritime logistics, are expanding significantly as Iran increases its capital investments in oil, gas and petrochemicals, and expands its fleet of airplanes and vessels. Iran is also expected to make substantial investments to its existing infrastructure in anticipation of growth.”

Mr Teo added: “SBF has identified the key sectors of oil and gas, transport and logistics, tourism (including hospitality, hotel construction and development), urban solutions, financial services, general trade and fast moving consumer goods as areas of focus for Singapore companies, given that these are not only areas of strength for us, but also where complementary needs can be met. It is also heartening to note that 43 out of the 48 companies on the business delegation are SMEs. These companies have set their sights further ashore to explore new opportunities in new markets, whilst also suggesting that emerging markets are not limited to the bigger players.”

A delegate from the business mission, Mr Zhennan Low, Deputy Managing Director of S.J. Low Bros & Co Pte Ltd, said “With many markets in the world already opened, Iran is one of the few countries left that offers a myriad of opportunities as compared to other exposed markets. Iran will be an extension of the region we cover under Central Asia. We hope to find long term partners and suppliers whom we can work with on food distribution in Iran during this trip. Since this is our first experience in Iran, we are keeping an open mind, but so far we have heard positive comments about the people and doing business there.”

Another delegate, Ms Mandy Kao, Director of Coshine Development Pte Ltd, commented “The Middle East and Central Asia region is less familiar to most Singapore business owners and seems challenging especially for business women, but it has an abundance of opportunities. I believe the Iran market is especially interesting and worth exploring at this point of time, as both the people and the market are eager to accept new ideas and knowledge that are offered to them.”

Iran is one of the largest economies in the Middle East and North Africa region with a GDP of over US$406.3 billion, and touts one of the most diverse economies in the Middle East. It also has the second largest market size in the region after Egypt, hosts a highly-educated population of an estimated 78.5 million people with the median age of 28.3 years and a large middle class. The market has an abundance of natural resources, including natural gas (18% of global reserves) and oil (4th largest in the world).1

SBF has facilitated numerous exchanges with Iran at both government and business level on an almost annual basis since engagements began a decade ago. More notable events and activities include:
  • 2010: Iran Investment Opportunities Forum and Roundtable session with H.E. Mehdi Ghazanfari, then Minister of Commerce; and H.E. Gholamreza Kord Zangeneh, then Vice Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance
  • 2014: Dialogue session with H.E. Dr Abbas Akhoundi, Minister of Road and Urban Development
  • 2015: Iran awareness seminar with the CEO and Deputy President of the Iran Social Security Investment Company (SHASTA), one of Iran’s largest investment management conglomerates
SBF’s fourth business mission to Iran took place in January last year, which witnessed the renewal of its decade-old Memorandum-of-Understanding with its counterpart, the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), Iran’s national chamber.

1 Source: World bank

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