India and Iran today announced the launch of an online portal for facilitating trade between the two countries, which will also provide an e-marketplace for buyers and sellers of the two countries.
Inderjit Singh, additional secretary in the Department of Commerce, announced the launch of the portal in the presence of Gholamreza Ansari, ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran, Khaleel Rahim, CMD, STC, and other directors of STC.
The Hind-Iran portal (hindirantrade.org), a joint initiative of STC and Douman Queshm, Iran, aims to disseminate information relevant to Indo-Iran trade.
Speaking at the event, the Iranian ambassador said Iran and India have enjoyed deep social, cultural, economic and political connections and relations that have enriched both countries.
''The two countries have grown closer in the turbulent times at the peak of the economic sanctions against Iran, when it was India which emerged as a valuable trading partner of Iran. The portal is aimed at bridging the communication divide which the business communities face, and which are very interested in trading with each other,'' he said.
Ansari also acknowledged India as a friend who stood by Iran in tough times, and supported this initiative.
Iran also overtook Opec rival Saudi Arabia as India's top oil supplier in October, shipping data showed, just ahead of a producers' meeting this month to hammer out the details on output cuts aimed at reining in a global glut.
Iran used to be India's second-biggest oil supplier, a position it ceded to Iraq after tough Western sanctions over its nuclear development programme limited Tehran's exports and access to finance.
But India's oil imports from Iran have shot up this year after those sanctions were lifted in January. In October they surged more than threefold compared with the same month last year, rising to 789,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to ship tracking data and a report compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts.
That compares to 697,000 bpd supplied last month by Saudi Arabia. Over the whole January to October period, though, Saudi Arabia still holds India's top supply spot, at an average of 830,000 bpd versus Iraq's 784,000 bpd and Iran's 456,400 bpd.
Iran's surge to the No 1 spot is due partly to less available crude from Saudi Arabia, which has increased its capacity to refine oil instead of just exporting more crude.