Economy, Business And Markets

London Forum Reflects Win-Win Spirit in Iran-West Ties

London Forum Reflects Win-Win Spirit in Iran-West Ties
London Forum Reflects Win-Win Spirit in Iran-West Ties

A key business conference kicked off in London on Wednesday, focusing on the opportunities available in the Iranian market, while nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, are still underway to find a solution to a 12-year dispute over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

Due to an interim deal reached last year between the two sides, Western sanctions against Iran were partially eased, leaving room for European entrepreneurs to get closer to the Iranian market.

However, more steps need to be taken by private sectors from both sides to pave the way for sanctions to be completely lifted by the November 24 deadline, set by Iran and the P5+1 to reach a permanent agreement.

The two-day event in London is aimed at evaluating the post-sanctions trade framework and investment opportunities in Iran, according to Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, a founding partner of the 1st Europe-Iran Forum and an associate at Counterpoint, a UK based risk advisory specializing in cultural intelligence.

Among the participants in the forum are Iranian investors, European companies interested in the Iranian market and economists, according to Batmanghelidj.

A day before the London conference opened, Financial Tribune conducted an interview with Batmanghelidj as follows:

 What do you hope the forum will achieve?

Batmanghelidj: This forum is designed to allow private sector business leaders from Iran and Europe to exchange information and experiences. By doing so, we want companies and their leaders to prepare for a post-sanctions environment. Importantly, when sanctions are lifted, businesses will have a large role to play in ensuring that Iran’s re-entry into the global community will be both successful and rewarding for the Iranian people. We are trying to reflect the “Win-Win” spirit prevailing in Iran-West relations.

  Your general feedback so far?

We have found overwhelming support from private sector business leaders in Europe and Iran. Companies seem to appreciate the chance to take control over how their engagement with Iran is perceived and understood. The Forum allows companies to show that they are working towards constructive goals in Iran that are compatible with better political, economic, and social outcomes.

  How many people do you expect to attend?

 We expect the event to feature the participation of 300 European and Iranian business leaders. This surpasses our original estimates and underlines the potential in the event.

  How many foreign companies are present?

 Over 50 multinational companies have representation at the event. These companies come from a wide range of sectors with different sizes and levels of expertise. But the one feature they have in common is a genuine interest to engage in commercial opportunities in Iran on the basis of cooperation and strong partnerships.

  What areas of investment do you see picking up quickly if sanctions are removed?

 The Europe-Iran Forum is focused on opportunities in the private sector, which has been particularly hard-hit by the sanctions. In my view, the great advantage of Iran’s private sector companies is its immediate access to the country’s talented labor pool.

As (Economy) Minister Tayebnia has recently highlighted in interviews, Iran’s young and educated workers make the country very attractive for investment. Therefore, I expect to see growth in areas like corporate services, internet technology, and the creative industries, which are market sectors that especially rely on human capital and innovation in order to thrive.