Economy, Domestic Economy

ICCIMA: Prudent Foreign Policy Producing Economic Results

ICCIMA: Prudent Foreign Policy Producing Economic ResultsICCIMA: Prudent Foreign Policy Producing Economic Results

Iran is facing a line of foreign trade delegations wanting to negotiate closer economic ties, head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mine and Agriculture, Gholam Hossein Shafei, said on Sunday,  noting that President Hassan Rouhani’s policy of normalcy with the West bearing fruit.

“The Rouhani government’s foreign policy has paved the way for overseas traders and business people to actively engage in doing business with Iran,” IRNA quoted Shafei as saying.

He referred to the current positive economic growth and increasing non-oil exports, saying the country is on the path of improvement thanks to the government’s interaction with the world economy.

He went on to say that non-oil exports have amounted to $30 billion so far this year, adding that to reduce dependency on oil, the economy must be handed over to the private sector.  

Rouhani promised to open up Iran’s economy to the world, following years of stagnation mainly as a result of a bitter dispute with the West over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

Giant companies from the West were forced to leave the Iran amid intensifying tensions. However, with nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) showing signs of improvement, a final deal seems within reach, which would usher foreign companies back, which has been severely hit by a credit crunch.   

In October last year, Rouhani said that his government had prepared a comprehensive plan to attract foreign and domestic investors, a move that has proved to be successful as foreign investors from both the EU and the United States  are competing with each other to seize the opportunities offered by Iran’s lucrative and untapped market.  

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that multinational companies from Europe are forging an alliance to overtake their US rivals in doing trade with Iran as the ongoing nuclear talks could eventually lead to the removal of sanctions against Iran, creating a vacuum in the Iranian market that can be seized upon by whoever steps in first.  

“Three European business bodies – the Iranian chambers of commerce in France, Germany and the UK – have formed an alliance to facilitate business between Iran and the European Union. Their main concern is that European companies face complicated national regimes to approve exports to Iran while their US counterparts operate with a unified, clearer export approval process,” the American daily wrote.

The European business alliance is the latest attempt by influential EU members to show a united front against their American counterparts to seize the opportunity offered by the Iranian market.

“I am already seeing a rush to market by US and EU companies and no one wants to be left behind. There is certainly an element of competition between US and EU exporters and EU companies may feel they have strength in numbers by unifying,” said Nigel Kushner, a director of British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce (BICC) and the chief executive of W Legal Ltd., a law firm that specializes in sanctions.

“Our voice will be more effective with the European Union’s Commission and the parliament if we act as a group,” explained Nigel Coulthard, head of the Cercle Iran Economie, a group of French industrialists and academics focused on Iran’s business sector, which is part of the alliance.