Iran’s top automaker targets Russian market amid sanctions – Reuters

Iran’s top automaker is seeking to prioritize exports to Russia, its CEO said on Sunday, as both countries are under Western economic sanctions.

Iran Khodro unveiled the latest model of its Rira crossover vehicle at its factory west of Tehran, where CEO Mehdi Khatibi announced the carmaker’s ambitions for the Russian market.

“We will pay particular attention to the Russian market, and we are also thinking of partnering with Russian investors,” he said.

“We have had good negotiations with Moscow. The Russian market, with its capabilities, will be one of our important markets,” Khatibi added.

“We will start exporting this year” to Russia, he said.

Iran Khodro previously exported vehicles to Russia, including between 2007 and 2009, Iranian media said.

Sunday’s announcement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Tehran in July and met with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Russia has been under increasingly harsh sanctions since its invasion of Ukraine in February, while Iran faces tough sanctions reimposed in 2018 when the United States unilaterally withdrew from a deal nuclear power between Tehran and the world powers.

Both countries have responded to the sanctions by strengthening cooperation in key areas to help support their economies.

Iran Khodro Vice President Kianoush Pourmojib sounded an optimistic note on Sunday, noting the increase in exports to Azerbaijan over the past five years.

“We are ambitious about improving the quality of our vehicles,” he told AFP.

He added that while the carmaker hopes to be competitive in markets such as Azerbaijan, Oman and Iraq, “in terms of volume, of course Russia is the most important.”

“This year, we will produce more than 500,000 vehicles and our objective within three years is to export 100,000 vehicles per year”, against less than 20,000 currently, he said.

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