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1st Australian business delegation in 14 years to visit Iran 

  • Rod McGuirk

    Associated Press

Canberra   /   Mon, September 26, 2016   /  10:36 am
1st Australian business delegation in 14 years to visit Iran  Ayatollah Gholam Ali Safaei Bushehri, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's representative in Bushehr province (center bottom) breaks ground in a ceremony to begin building Iran's second nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr, Iran, on Sept. 10, 2016. (Iranian Senior Vice-President's Office via AP/-)

Australia's trade minister will lead the country's first business delegation to visit Iran in 14 years after sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program were eased.

Steven Ciobo said he will leave Tuesday for the visit that will include reopening an Australian trade office that closed in 2010.

Ciobo said he will be accompanied by 20 representatives of Australian companies, with expertise in health, water management, agribusiness, mining, education and training.

Two-way trade between Australia and Iran fluctuated between 350 million Australian dollars (US$270 million) and AU$600 million a year while Australian sanctions were in place, he said.

"With the sanctions easing, there is ... significant potential for that figure to move north of there," Ciobo told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday.

"There are still challenges," he said, citing Iran's difficulty in fully reconnecting to the international financial system.

Australian eased sanctions in January after Iran implemented its nuclear pact.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action outlined what Tehran had to do to pull back its nuclear program from the brink of weapons-making capacity. And it spelled out the West's obligations to end many financial, trade and oil sanctions that had battered Iran's economy.

Mark Vaile, the trade minister at the time, led Australia's last business delegation to Iran in 2002.

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