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Iran to give foreign firms legal status for first time in 20 years

TEHRAN, April 1 (AFP) - Iran has made another step towards opening up its economy with a bill giving foreign firms legal status for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the state news agency IRNA reported Thursday.

The bill to allow registration of foreign companies was approved at a cabinet meeting Wednesday chaired by President Mohammad Khatami, IRNA said.

Around 50 foreign companies, mainly Western, currently operate in Iran but they are not granted any legal status and their activities must first obtain special government authorisation.

The bill provides for foreign firms to be registered provided there are reciprocol arrangements in their own country for Iranian companies.

"Foreign firms must conduct their activities in areas defined by the Iranian government and within the law," according to the bill.


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