The Federal Government has announced it will reopen a trade office in Iran ahead of Trade Minister Steve Ciobo’s visit to Tehran this week.
A business delegation led by Mr Ciobo is expected to discuss rebuilding trade ties between Australia and Iran after a very long hiatus.
Mr Ciobo said Iran offered significant economic opportunities for Australia.
“There are significant trade opportunities as Iran re-engages with the world following the easing of sanctions,” he told ABC News breakfast.
“There’s opportunity in a myriad of areas, from agribusiness and food through to education, training and water management and not to mention the fact that we, of course, have a really strong and powerful track record in relation to resources and energy — something that is in abundance in Iran as well.”
Iran emerged from years of economic isolation when world powers lifted crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic in January in return for Tehran complying with a deal to curb its nuclear ambitions.
The deal also released billions of dollars worth of frozen Iranian assets and opened the door for global companies that have been barred from doing business in Iran.
Iran a ‘potential source of future economic growth’
Mr Ciobo said the country was moving in the right direction.
“The US-led initiative, in many respects, on the joint comprehensive plan of action in relation to curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, is one that seems to be bearing fruit,” he said.
“In that respect, we’ve seen the easing of sanctions and it’s really through the easing of those sanctions now that Australia and other countries are looking to Iran, a country of some 80 million people, as a good potential source of future economic growth.”
But Mr Ciobo said the Government was not going to turn its back on human rights issues.
“We’re not going to in any way, shape or form turn our back on issues in relation to human rights or in relation to those asylum seekers who we’d look to have resettled back into Iran,” he said.
On the issue of asylum seekers, Mr Ciobo said: “Australia’s position in relation to resettling Iranian asylum seekers back to Iran has been clear and consistent”.
“It is our preferred option that those Iranians who are found not to be refugees should be resettled back into Iran, given that they’re Iranian citizens,” he said.