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Swiss Firms May Get Eventual Boost  From Sanctions Move
Economy, Domestic Economy

Swiss Firms May Get Eventual Boost From Sanctions Move

Switzerland’s lifting of some economic sanctions against Iran on Thursday should allow Swiss-based companies to take advantage if the US and European Union eliminate their own trade curbs.

The Swiss government, acting after a July 14 deal between Tehran and six big powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program, officially lifted a ban on trading precious metals with Iranian state bodies. It also eased requirements to report trade in Iranian petrochemical products and the transport of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products, Reuters reported.

While unlikely to have more than immediate symbolic impact, the steps could help Swiss companies aiming to do more business with Iran to respond quickly if and when the US and Europe remove their own sanctions.

The sanctions lifted on Thursday had already been suspended by Switzerland since January 2014, but Swiss companies remain subject to the US and EU restrictions.

“The latest move means that when they are eventually lifted, Swiss companies will be able to act immediately,” said Olivier Jakob, oil analyst at the Petromatrix consultancy in Zug, Switzerland.

“It puts Swiss companies and companies based here in the starting blocks.”

The commodities sector is important to the Swiss economy, comprising 500 companies that contribute 20 billion Swiss francs ($20.5 billion), or 3.5%, of gross domestic product.

Trading houses including Glencore Plc, Trafigura Beheer BV and Vitol Group employ between 10,000 and 12,000 staff.

The Swiss government said its move was aimed at promoting “a broad political and economic exchange with Iran” but would monitor the nuclear deal, should problems arise.

The deal Iran struck last month with China, Russia, the United States, Germany, France and Britain aims to limit in Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from UN, EU and US sanctions that have hurt the Islamic Republic’s economy.

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