Economy, Business And Markets

Mending Tehran Ties in Ireland’s Favor

Mending Tehran Ties in Ireland’s Favor Mending Tehran Ties in Ireland’s Favor

Trade between Iran and Ireland has been hampered in recent years due to the ongoing closure of the Irish embassy in Tehran. In 2012, the Irish government decided to shutter the embassy stating a lack of funds in the country’s foreign services budget.

This year the Irish government has said it is considering reopening the embassy, but no final decision has been made on the issue. This message is refreshing to many in Iran who found the closure of the Irish mission just as perplexing as the closure of the Canadian embassy in September 2012.

The lack of Irish representation within Iran has caused a headache for prospective business deals, with many Iranians using Ireland as a springboard to re-export their products (mainly agricultural) to the United Kingdom.

Since the shutdown of the Irish consulate, citizens of that country and dual national Iranian-Irish people living in Iran, who wish to do consular services or business, have been left with little or no option to communicate with the European country.

Ireland, unlike the United Kingdom, has struggled in recent years due to its economic crisis afflicting government expenditure belt tightening exercises. Embassies around the world have been on skeleton staff or reduced budgets to meet the country’s international lenders demands.

The Irish Republic decided in that year to close its embassies to the Vatican, Iran and East Timor on cost-saving grounds. However, unlike Iran’s embassy the Financial Times reports that the Irish embassy in the Vatican reopened this year, mostly down to what media in Dublin call the “Francis Effect”, referring to the new pope’s popular policies.

An Irish parliamentarian stated last week that when Iran receives further sanctions relief, his country’s investment group Enterprise Ireland would plan a visit during the first half of 2015 to look for new investment opportunities, IRNA reported. Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton said the visit will be the first by the government agency since 2007, adding that it will aim at recognizing the potentials of the Iranian market. Bruton added that following the visit the Irish government would create a new strategy as how to support Irish companies wishing to enter the Iranian market.

During 2013, Ireland exported $69.7m worth of products to Iran, the majority of which were soft drink concentrates or pharmaceutical products. In return, Iran exported roughly $1m worth of goods, mainly food products consisting of fruits and nuts. Iran exports to Ireland have dropped sharply in recent years due to the banking restrictions imposed by the European Union on Iranian exports. Overall, Bruton said that Irish investors are excited about a further warming of relations with Tehran, going on to say that Enterprise Ireland had not previously considered Iran a target market, concentrating mainly on other Middle East countries.

The relationship between Tehran and Dublin has never been as low as it has been in the past few years. And with the imminent dispatch of a trade mission to Iran, hopefully things are beginning to improve.