Government 'very keen' for stronger trade ties with Iran

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy visited Iran amid talks over a new agreement to export New Zealand lamb and beef.
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy visited Iran amid talks over a new agreement to export New Zealand lamb and beef.

The Government is eager to further develop trade ties with Iran, saying its bilateral relations have warmed since international sanctions against Tehran were eased.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy visited Iran at the weekend, overseeing an agreement to enable the resumption of chilled and frozen lamb and beef exports to the Islamic Republic.

There were also talks over the potential for kiwifruit exports, which were currently banned by Iran as it had its own kiwifruit market.

"We are very keen to do more business with Iran," Guy told Reuters in Dubai, calling it a "very important market."

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In Tehran, Guy and Iranian Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati witnessed the signing of the meat agreement, and discussed agricultural cooperation for the coming year.

They also witnessed the signing of a statement of intent between Zespri and Iran's Ministry of Agriculture which could see Zespri set up business there in future.

"Current import conditions mean that New Zealand is unable to export kiwifruit to Iran. However, the letter of intent outlines undertakings to further explore commercial opportunities in Iran," Guy said.

International sanctions were eased after an accord was reached in 2015 on Iran's nuclear programme, at a time when New Zealand held the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council.

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However, under President Donald Trump, the United States - a major New Zealand trading partner - has taken a tougher stance on Iran, imposing sanctions this month after Iran carried out a ballistic missile test. 

- Reuters and Stuff

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