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Iran, NZ look ‘beyond butter and milk’

14 March 2016 15:25


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran is interested in long-term economic relations with New Zealand as he visits Wellington in his capacity for the first time in 10 years.

Ahead of a planned meeting with Prime Minister John Key on Monday, Zarif said New Zealand’s trade with Iran could surpass pre-sanction levels and tap into “vast possibilities.”

“We continue to buy butter and milk products from you, but we are interested in going beyond that and engaging in long-term economic relations with New Zealand,” he told New Zealand Radio.

Zarif said new trade possibilities included investment in petrochemical products, and high-tech areas such as geothermal, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Earlier, the Iranian minister met his New Zealander counterpart Murray McCully for a “refresh” of the bilateral relationship, with trade top of the agenda, Otago Daily Times said.

They signed off on an arrangement between the Export Credit Office and Export Guarantee Fund of Iran which McCully said would help give exporters more confidence in the trading arrangements.

Iran was New Zealand’s fifth largest trading partner in the 1980s before sanctions were imposed on the Islamic Republic. The removal of those sanctions opens the way for trade again, Otago Daily Times said.

Zarif is currently on a tour of six countries in the Asia-Pacific region. He will travel to Australia on Tuesday for talks with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who visited Tehran last April.

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