Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia called on the Chinese capital holders to increase their investment in Iran's economic projects given the meaningful reduction in inflation and unemployment rates and the country's rich oil and gas reserves. "Iran is in possession of the world's largest combined oil and gas reserves and it also has an educated and skillful work force in different fields which is considered as one of Iran's strong points for the development of its economic relations with other countries," Tayyebnia said in a meeting with Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei in Beijing on Monday. "In recent months, the inflation rate has lowered in Iran meaningfully in a way that the rate of monthly inflation has reached 0.5% and unemployment rate has also undergone a one-percent point decrease," he added. Tayyebnia underlined that Iran and China now have the best opportunity for turning their usual economic relations into special ties, and said, "We hope that a considerable part of China's foreign investment will be directed to Iran." Iranian and Chinese officials have on several occasions underlined the need for the further expansion of bilateral relations and exchanges, specially in trade fields. During an April meeting in Tehran, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Morteza Sarmadi and the outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Tehran, Yu Hongyang, explored avenues for bolstering and reinvigorating mutual cooperation Sarmadi pointed to a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Bishkek on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) earlier this year, and underlined the need for continued cooperation between the two countries within the framework of their joint economic commission and exchange of visits by their senior officials. The outgoing Chinese ambassador, for his part, briefed the Iranian deputy foreign minister on the efforts made during his mission in Tehran, and also stressed that senior officials in his country are strongly determined to strengthen ties with Iran. "China attaches a lot of importance to the reinforcement of ties with Iran as an important and trustworthy partner," he underlined. The senior diplomat expressed satisfaction in the status quo of Iran-China bilateral ties, and said, "There are vast potentials for continuing the upward trend of the two countries' ties in all the various fields." Trade between Iran and China in the past year was estimated at $45 billion. Iran is currently China's third largest supplier of crude, providing Beijing with roughly 12 percent of its total annual oil consumption. According to the figures released by China's General Administration of Customs in January, China's crude oil imports from Iran reached 2.5 million tons (mt) in December 2012, up 43 percent from November. The official data showed that China's daily crude imports from Iran in December 2012 also rose 3.6 percent compared to December 2011. It marks China's biggest crude import from Iran since it won a renewal of exemption from the United States' oil embargo against Iran.