China and Iran mapped out a wide-ranging 25-year plan to broaden relations and expand trade during the first visit by a Chinese leader to the Islamic republic in 14 years.
President Xi Jinping met with his counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Saturday, a week after the lifting of international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
The Chinese leader is the first head of state of the six-country bloc that negotiated the historic deal to visit Iran.
Mr Rouhani said the meeting marked “the beginning of an important era” in Iran-China relations, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The visit was the first by a Chinese president in 14 years, official Iranian media reported.
“Today we discussed the strategic relationship between both countries, setting up a comprehensive 25-year plan and also promoting bilateral relations of up to $600bn (€555.6bn) over the next 10 years,” Rouhani said.
The two countries signed 17 documents and letters of intent, IRNA reported, including treaties on judicial, commercial and civil matters. Long-term contracts in the energy and mining sectors were also discussed, Rouhani said.
Iran is seeking to attract $50bn (€46.3bn) annually in foreign investment for the country’s ailing $400bn economy.
China is Iran’s biggest trade partner, purchasing oil from Iran while sanctions over the country’s nuclear program blocked U.S. and European competitors from the market.
Trade between the two countries stood at some $52bn in 2014, before the plunge in oil prices.
The US and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions and released billions in assets after international inspectors concluded Iran had complied with the agreement to dismantle much of its nuclear program.
Separately, China also announced that it is targeting further cuts in crude steel production capacity by as much as 150 million tons and “large-scale” reductions in coal output as part of supply-side measures aimed at curbing overcapacity and excess labor in state-owned industries.
The country has lowered steel production by about 90 million tons “in recent years” and will push to cut a further 100 million to 150 million tons, while “strictly controlling” steel capacity increases and halting new coal mine approvals, according to a statement on the Chinese government’s website, citing a State Council meeting last Friday chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. No time line was mentioned.
China has vowed in the past to curb capacity in industries such as coal and steel as the world’s second-largest economy slows amid a shift towards consumer-led growth.
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