Domestic Economy

Chamber Sees Open Season in Post-Sanctions Era

Chamber Sees Open Season in Post-Sanctions EraChamber Sees Open Season in Post-Sanctions Era

Chairman of the export promotion department of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Asadollah Asgaroladi on Thursday anticipated that imports and exports could exceed $70 billion and $60 billion respectively during the current Iranian year (started March 21) following a comprehensive nuclear agreement and lifting of economic sanctions (imposed by the West over Iran’s nuclear energy program).

According to Asgaroaldi, the sanctions create many hurdles for Iranian traders in conducting banking transactions and opening Lines of Credit (LCs). He also observed that the national economy could benefit greatly if the limitations on oil exports are eased.

Iran’s crude oil exports are limited to about 1 million barrel per day under the current sanction regime. Iran has a system of barter trade with its leading oil buyers, China and India, making trade with these two countries easier for the business-owners.

Non-oil exports worth $49.7 billion were recorded during the past Iranian year. Total imports were estimated at $52.5 billion during the same period.

Nuclear negotiations between the foreign ministers of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany (P5+1) and Iran reached a milestone in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2 with a framework agreement. Final details of the deal, however, have to be worked out by June 30.

  Foreign Investors Eyeing Business

Even though the sanctions still remain intact and the nuclear deal is yet to be finalized, many European countries have taken initiatives in recent months to expand business relations with Iran, determined not to be left behind once the restrictions are finally over.

Experts believe that Iran’s economic environment is now more prepared than ever for private sector activities and absorbing foreign investments.

Member of Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce, Hassan Taslimi, in an interview with Persian daily Ta’adol cited the economic downturn in Europe as a possible reason for a stronger presence by European companies in the country.

Abundance of raw material, low-cost energy sources and availability of young and educated workforce are some other amenities that add to the attraction of Iran’s market, points out the expert, who believes the inflow of foreign trade delegations will help improve the country’s business environment.

  Russian Delegation to Visit

Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mine and Trade announced on Wednesday that a high ranking delegation of Russian businessmen and industrialists will visit Tehran in the first week of May to discuss cooperation in areas including oil and gas, railways, chemical industries, electrical and telecommunication, and metallurgy.

  Swiss Representatives

Meanwhile, a delegation of Switzerland’s economic representatives under the leadership of former ambassador to Iran Livia Leu will travel to Tehran next week to scope out economic opportunities.

 “We would like to find out how the Iranian government wants to proceed until negotiations are concluded, and after the sanctions are lifted,” said Leu, who served in Tehran until 2013 and is currently the cabinet’s delegate for trade agreements.

  Czech Efforts

A trade delegation from Czech Republic, led by deputy foreign minister Martin Tlapa and comprising of traders and chairmen of 20 major companies is set to visit Tehran in mid September this year with the aim of identifying investment opportunities and improving mutual economic relations. Representatives from Skoda and Tatra automobile companies are among the delegations.  

Deputy speaker of the Czech Republic’s Chamber of Deputies, Vojtech Filip, who  headed a high-ranking delegation to Tehran on April 12, had said in a meeting with minister of economic affairs and finance, Ali Tayebnia, that many notable Czech companies are vying to enter what he described “Iran’s vast and alluring markets.”

  Germany to Expand Trade

In December last year, Tehran was host to a trade delegation comprising over 30 senior managers of Germany’s Near and Middle East Association. During their four-day visit, the delegation held meetings with the ministers of trade, energy and communications to explore ways of broadening economic ties.

A German trade delegation also visited Iran on February 22, 2014 to discuss cooperation with Iranian chambers of commerce as well as private sector managers in the fields of energy, food, engineering, steel, telecommunications, construction, agriculture, and medical treatment industries.

Germany’s business community is hoping to substantially increase trade with Iran. Last week, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) anticipated that Germany’s exports to Iran will double over the next five years in view of the Lausanne deal, IRNA reported.

Germany’s exports to Iran increased by 30 percent to reach 2.4 billion euros during the past Iranian calendar year (ended March 20).

  Iran-France Trade Down 8%

A delegation of more than 100 French companies visited Tehran on February 2, 2014. Foreign media referred to the visit as “the biggest demonstration of western business interest in Iran for more than a decade.”

The three-day visit, which included top French companies such as oil giant Total, engineer Alstom, telecoms group Orange and carmaker Renault, raised hopes in Iran that an interim deal on its nuclear program could lead to a return of foreign investment.

Bilateral trade between Iran and France fell by 8% in 2014 to 482 million euros, from 521 million euros in 2013.

  103 Missions

According to head of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization (TPO), Valiollah Afkhamirad, Iran has sent 46 trade teams comprising of more than 800 businesspeople and hosted 57 foreign trade teams including 2,100 traders and business owners during the past two years.

In addition to the aforementioned countries, Italy, Ireland, Turkey and Belgium have also sent trade delegations to Iran.

Intro: Imports and exports are expected to exceed $70 billion and $60 billion respectively following the removal of western sanctions