Economy, Business And Markets

Iran-Europe Trade Ties: Hopes and Concerns

Iran-Europe Trade Ties: Hopes and ConcernsIran-Europe Trade Ties: Hopes and Concerns

The Second Iran-Europe Forum convened on Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland.

The two-day event was attended by more than a hundred leading experts, high-ranking government officials and prominent managers from both Iran and European countries, with the goal of discussing Iran’s current economic status and future prospects in light of the Vienna agreement concluded between Iran and six world powers.

The event opened with speeches by Livia Leu, head of Bilateral Trade Organization of Switzerland and Swiss Ambassador to Iran Giulio Haas.

 Leu considered the conclusion of the recent nuclear deal as a major turning point in the attitude of the West toward Iran, and in the will to engage with Iran at higher levels in political and economic fields.

Haas stressed that various factors make Iran’s market lucrative, such as its strategic location, promising demographics, high literacy rate and abundant natural resources, as well as severe under-investment in key sectors. He also pointed out possible risks and contingencies associated with this market, which necessitate due diligence before conducting any business.

The Swiss ambassador predicted that Iran will soon join the club of BRICS (major emerging economies, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

This comprehensive opening was followed by panels in which commercial and legal aspects of trade with Iran were outlined by experts from banking, insurance and trade sectors, in addition to prominent international law firms. The panels touched on emerging market strategy, business diplomacy, banking practices in Iran, Tehran Stock Exchange and Iran’s potential role in turning threats into opportunities.  

On the second day, the session was opened by Dominique de Villepin, former French prime minister who referred to the history of Europe-Iran relations. In this context, he elaborated on current tensions in the Middle East and the exclusive role Iran can play following the implementation of the nuclear agreement.

Villepin reiterated the global belief that diplomacy is the practical path to take following previous unsuccessful military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how this experience can be put to use for tackling various crises in the Middle East. From his viewpoint, the key to solving the issue is to bring together all stakeholders in the region such as Iran and Russia as well as Persian Gulf states.

This was followed by a presentation by Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, senior advisor to the governor of Central Bank of Iran. As he was a member of the Iranian negotiating team in the nuclear talks, he shared his take on the breakthroughs that the nuclear deal is expected to bring about for Iran’s economy in the near future.

The second day was also crowded by panels that elaborated on regulatory aspects of doing business in Iran, the country’s oil and gas market, humanitarian trade finance, private equities, venture capital, investment banking and project finance.

The event was concluded by keynote speaker Gholamali Kamyab, vice governor of CBI, who elaborated on strategies for post-sanctions’ investment and development, with a look at monetary policy.

The event is only one among many convened in European countries and Iran after the Vienna agreement, all of which introduced opportunities in post-sanctions’ Iran and heralded the promotion of bilateral trade ties.

Although the nuclear agreement has not yet been executed and the removal of sanctions is anticipated to start in early 2016, European governments and companies have already initiated negotiations with their Iran counterparts to set the stage for the launch of a new era in multi-faceted ties.