Economy, Business And Markets

French Businesses Hoping to Beat the Rush Back Into Iran

French Businesses Hoping to Beat the Rush Back Into IranFrench Businesses Hoping to Beat the Rush Back Into Iran

Since the start of nuclear negotiations with Iran, France has been seen as taking the toughest stand. Now as a deal nears, Paris must be ready to dash in and grab a slice of the long untapped market, Arab News reported.

“The first repercussions of any deal will be the opening of the Iranian market. That’s what all the western countries are waiting for,” a top western diplomat said recently.

“They are jostling as if they’re at the start of a marathon, and are keeping a close eye on one another.”

After years of biting sanctions, countries are on the starting blocks ready to resume business with Iran, said one French economist.

With a population of 77 million people, Iran has the world’s fourth largest oil reserves and the second largest gas reserves.

 “Be careful, don’t be late. You have to prepare yourselves. The market won’t wait for you and your competitors are already there,” said the Iranian ambassador to France, Ali Ahani, in 2013.

And it’s not just the French. Russia and China are desperate to hold onto and increase their own slice of the pie. While American companies, long shut out of the Iranian market, are also keen to return.

France used to have a strong presence in Iran before the sanctions went into effect, with Peugeot and Renault being major players in the Iranian auto industry and energy giant Total heavily involved in the oil sector.

But two-way trade has fallen from four billion euros in 2004 to just 500 million in 2013, according to French statistics.

“Unfortunately we are heavily criticized by Iranian society, which sees us as having abandoned them during a difficult time,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman of French automotive giant PSA Peugeot Citroen, recently.