Domestic Economy

Nuclear Deal Generates Renewed Foreign Interest

Nuclear Deal Generates  Renewed Foreign InterestNuclear Deal Generates  Renewed Foreign Interest

Foreign businesses and political leaders are wasting little time in trying to tap into the large and lucrative Iranian market after a landmark agreement with the P5+1 reached in Vienna on July 14 set the stage for the removal of sanctions on Iran by the West over its nuclear energy program.

While it will likely be months before the sanctions ease, foreign companies and high-ranking officials have already started exploring opportunities in Iran, hoping to benefit from advantages including a consumer market of 80 million—the second largest population in the Middle East after Egypt – the world's fourth-largest oil reserves and the second-biggest natural gas resources.

Europeans are making sure they have the first mover advantage. Germany dispatched a trade delegation to Iran on Sunday, while ministers from Spain, Austria and France are planning to visit in the coming months. The Philippines, South Korea and Britain are among others willing to expand relations with Iran following the removal of sanctions.

> Germans in Tehran

A German business delegation led by Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economy and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Tehran on Sunday, IRNA reported. Although planned some time ago, the delegation’s three-day trip comes less than a week after the nuclear accord was reached.

"There is great interest on the part of German industry in normalizing and strengthening economic relations with Iran, especially after the nuclear agreement," a spokeswoman for the German Ministry of Economy and Energy told Russia’s TASS news agency last week.

Bilateral trade between Iran and Germany was once strong but fell as a result of sanctions, declining from 4.7 billion euros (5.1 billion) in 2010 to 2.1 billion euros last year. Ulrich Grillo, head of the Federation of German Industries, has predicted two-way trade could surge to over 10 billion euros annually in coming years.

Grillo has pointed to pent-up demand in modernizing Iran's industrial infrastructure, especially in the oil industry, which he said offered "big market opportunities" for German engineering companies.

> Spanish Minister Sees Good Prospects

Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday that he planned to visit Iran in September along with Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism Jose Manuel Soria Lopez and Minister of Public Works Ana Pastor Julian, adding that he expects good prospects for Spanish companies in industry, energy, telecommunications, tourism and infrastructure following the accord reached between Iran and the P5+1.

> French FM to Visit

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday he would be paying a visit to Iran as Paris looks to explore business opportunities in the Iranian market. A large French business delegation, anticipating a resolution to the nuclear issue, traveled to Tehran last year. Fabius did not give a date for the visit but told Europe 1 on Wednesday that French firms were "very well thought of" in Iran.

Meanwhile, representatives from France's largest employer federation MEDEF are due to visit Iran in September to explore investment opportunities and reestablish commercial ties. More than 100 representatives from the body travelled to Iran early last year, triggering anger in the US which said it was still too early to do business with Tehran.

> S. Korea Promises Financial Support

After the South Korean foreign ministry issued a statement on Tuesday hailing the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1, South Korea's Export Credit Agency on Thursday pledged to provide financial support to Korean firms trying to secure business in Iran.

The Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank) said in a statement it could offer project financing, loans and credit and was also seeking to secure a memorandum of understanding with Tehran on building 10 hospitals in the country, Reuters reported.

> Britain Hopes to Resume Ties

Britain’s Foreign Minister Philip Hammond has expressed hope that the UK would reopen its embassy in Tehran before the end of the year, four years after diplomatic relations were suspended and the British Embassy in Tehran was closed in November 2011.

Hammond also said he had spoken to British Finance Minister George Osborne to ensure that the country was ready to capitalize on the "quite substantial" business opportunities that would arise from the diplomatic agreement, Reuters reported.

"I think Iran will want to use some of the unfrozen assets to address some really very large infrastructure deficits, including in the oil and gas production industry, where the UK is very well placed to play a role," Hammond said.

> Filipino Trade Delegation En Route

Gregory L. Domingo, the Philippines' current secretary of trade and industry, said on Thursday that Manila is going to send an economic delegation to Iran soon to take account of trade opportunities in Iran in the post-sanctions era.

Congratulating Iranian Ambassador to Manila, Ali-Asghar Mohammadi on the nuclear deal, Domingo expressed hope that the lifting of western sections will pave the way for expansion of economic relations between Iran and the Philippines.