On Tuesday 7th March, CMEC held a Persian New Year Nowruz Lunch at the Corinthia Hotel, hosted by CMEC Chairman The Rt Hon Sir Hugo Swire KCMG MP and Vice Chairman Seema Kennedy MP.
The lunch is now a staple event in the CMEC Iran Program calendar, which serves to ensure that Conservative parliamentarians understand Iran. It was attended by MPs and prominent members of the Iranian diaspora.
We were delighted that Rory Stewart OBE MP FRSL, the Minister of State for International Development, was the guest of honour and speaker. He delivered a captivating description of his travels to Iran. Watch the speech here:
For the occasion, the Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood MP also passed on a short Nowruz message to guests:
Iran has a rich civilisation that goes back thousands of years; a diverse and youthful country of over 80 million people with great natural wealth and strategically situated at the crossroads of the world. The UK and Iran have a long, and I think it is fair to say, rather complicated history. It would be foolhardy to pretend that significant differences in our world view do not exist between our two countries, but since the reopening of the British Embassy in Tehran in August 2015, the UK-Iran relationship has been steadily strengthening.
I visited Tehran myself in January this year - there are great economic and cultural opportunities yet to be fully realised. Iran is the biggest new market to enter the global economy in over a decade and we want to help British businesses take advantage of the trade opportunities that economic re-engagement with Iran will bring. UK exports to Iran in 2016 were worth £144 million – up 53% from 2015. There is huge potential to do so much more. It is our belief that ensuring Iran is connected effectively with global financial services is crucial if we are to make the most of the new opportunities following the nuclear deal.
As a leading centre for financial and professional services, the UK is well placed to facilitate this process and also to offer the benefits of our experience in areas such as supporting compliance with international regulatory standards in accounting, anti-money laundering, and countering the financing of terrorism.
Events like the CMEC Nowruz and CMEC Iran Program are invaluable to this effort of strengthening the constructive engagement between our two countries. I would like to express my very best wishes for this Nowruz to you, and I hope that you enjoy this lunch.