Russia seeks to boost trade with UAE and strengthen Iran industrial links

Russia wants to boost trade ties with the UAE at the same time as it pursues closer links with Iran.

The Russian trade minister Denis Manturov told The National that he wanted to grow the US$2 billion in trade with the UAE while also boosting industrial cooperation with Iran.

He has visited Tehran and Abu Dhabi in recent weeks, while last month the Russian president Vladimir Putin also visited Iran for the first time in almost a decade.

“Such a cooperation belongs to the realm of economics only, not politics,” he said.

Warming trade relations between Moscow and Tehran come as Arabian Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Russia has agreed to resume nuclear exports to Iran while a major export deal of the S-300 missile system to Iran has also been revived.

The missile deal was originally signed in 2007, but deliveries were subsequently blocked by the Kremlin. That triggered a $4bn lawsuit brought by Iran against Rosoboronexport, a unit of the military conglomerate Rostec that oversees military exports.

As Russia has become isolated by the West over the conflict in Ukraine, the country is busy looking to forge new trade relationships to source raw materials for its own manufacturers and find new customers for its exports.

Mr Manturov said there was no conflict between Russia’s military exports to Iran and its desire to grow trade with other Gulf states.

“The trade turnover between Russia and Iran has been steadily growing,” he said. “The countries are efficiently cooperating in virtually every field including such industries as oil and gas, energy, metallurgy, machine tool technology, engine manufacturing, automotive, vehicles, aircraft production and others,” he said.

“Besides, we are working hard on establishing advanced joint venture projects, engineering centres and industrial parks. We also see excellent opportunities for military and technical cooperation with Iran, just like with any other country in the region.”

Russia also wants to increase its livestock trade with the UAE.

“In this context, a long-term and mutual investment partnership independent of any current political developments is moving to the forefront. It will facilitate the cooperation between the Russian Direct Investments Foundation and the largest UAE investment funds. We also pay special attention to enhancing the contractual and treaty conditions for our relations.”

Russia has also been actively participating in defence and aviation exhibitions in the UAE.

Sukhoi, the Russian plane maker, and Russian Helicopters were present at the Dubai Airshow last month, while weapons makers such as Kalashnikov participated in the Idex defence exhibition in the capital in February.

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