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Business Ties With US Warming Up

Business Ties With US Warming Up Business Ties With US Warming Up

After Iran and world powers reached a landmark deal to end a 12-year dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy program, US-Iran Chamber of Commerce took a step forward by launching its official website (www.usircc.org), encouraging American businesspeople, including traders and investors, to enter Iran’s market.

Founders of the chamber, according to the website, are “leaders within international industries and diplomacy who have a profound understanding of US-Iran political and economic relations,” Eghtesad Online reported.

Trade relations between Iran and the US dramatically dropped, if not ended, during recent years as a result of tight economic sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program.

Although the United Nations Security Council and the European Union both approved the Iran nuclear deal last week, laying the foundation for economic sanctions against Iran to be lifted within 90 days, the US government is tussling oppositions to the deal in the congress.

To prevent legal complexities, the Washington D.C.-based US-Iran chamber will require a withdrawal of the congressional sanctions, particularly ILSA (Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996) which obliges the US president to take measures against foreign companies that invest more than $20 million during a 12-month period in the development of Iranian oil and gas fields.

Establishment of the chamber was decided shortly after President Hassan Rouhani travelled to New York City in fall 2013 to deliver a speech to the United Nations.

Initially, the founder of the chamber—currently a company named Iran-America Chamber of Commerce Inc.—was said to be an Iranian-American named E.J. Miller (born Ekram Manafzadeh). President Rouhani asked Miller to find American companies that would be willing to do business in Iran, and he pledged full support to open up his country’s markets to these companies, Washington Times wrote in December 2013.

Manafzadeh, however, is not the current chairman of the chamber. Mojtaba Haqirian, who introduced himself as deputy head of the chamber, in an interview with the Persian daily Sharq said: “Manafzadeh was not trusted by the government, therefore Hadi Sadeqi was elected chairman of the chamber. Sadeqi is a familiar name for Iran as he used to be the head of Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the US.”

According to Haqirian, board members of the chamber have also been elected from among individuals trusted by Iran’s government and are due to hold a meeting next week with Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture to discuss issues related to the joint chamber.

However, ICCIMA’s secretary-general, Mohammad Mehdi Behkish, emphasized that the US-Iran Chamber of Commerce is not an official joint chamber yet and simply the name of a company registered in the US, as it has not received the approval of US Chamber of Commerce.

 “The plan is to send a delegation to the United States to [officially] establish a joint chamber using facilities provided by the International Chamber of Commerce,” he said.

He, however, referred to ILSA sanctions passed by the US Congress as the main obstacle to US-Iran business relations, pointing out that these sanctions are unlikely to be lifted in the near future as they are not related with Iran’s nuclear program.

“Official establishment of a joint chamber will not be possible in the near future, unless the embargoes against Iran are removed or the US government somehow revokes the legal limitations [on US-based companies doing business with Iran],” said Behkish.

Head of Word Trade Center in Tehran, Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour, who had earlier announced plans for a visit by an Iranian economic delegation to the US during the third quarter of the current Iranian year (September 23-December 21, 2015), said on Tuesday that opening Iran’s trade office in the US is “inevitable”.

He added that negotiations for opening both Iran and the US trade offices had begun prior to the imposition of US sanctions against Iran.

He, however, clarified that no official date has yet been announced for opening trade offices of both countries, adding that it could only be possible after the resumption of economic activities between the two countries.

 

Financialtribune.com