Belarus to sell more than 100 tractors to Iran

Minsk - Belarus will sell more than 100 tractors to an Iranian company as an initial step in an ambitious investment programme in the Middle Eastern nation's agriculture, a Belarusian official said Wednesday.

The Iranian company Gonabad will take delivery of 110 tractors produced by the Minsk Tractor Factory (MTZ) later this year, said Nikolai Dubovets, an MTZ spokesman.

The terms of the deal were not made public. The price new of a single MTZ tractor averages between ten and twenty thousand dollars, making the deal probably worth between one and two million dollars, industry experts said.

Delivery will take place this year after talks between MTZ and Gonabad technicians, Dubovets said.

The sale is one of the largest orders received by the MTZ in recent years. Once the Soviet Union's flagship tractor factory, the MTZ after Belarusian independence in 1991 has been chronically cash- strapped and short of orders.

International isolation of Belarus due to the authoritarian regime of Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko has exacerbated the problem by depriving MTZ and similar firms of foreign customers.

Iran in recent months has intensified talks on cooperation with Belarus on a wide range of trade areas such as agricultural equipment and military supplies and services.

The tractor order would allow Belarus to participate in a tender later this year to supply Iran up to four thousand more tractors, as well as harvesting machines and other farm vehicles, Dubovets said.

c 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur