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Taking Stock of Iran’s Business Ambience
Economy, Domestic Economy

Taking Stock of Iran’s Business Ambience

The Third Europe-Iran Forum concluded on May 4 after the European business community reviewed the current challenges with regard to doing business with Iran.
The two-day event in the Swiss financial capital covered issues such as lingering US sanctions afflicting European business with the Islamic Republic and other trade obstacles.
In this year’s edition of the forum, there were six panel discussions focusing on areas of potential growth in the Iranian economy, as well as over 12 workshops for the delegates’ chosen sub-topics.
The second day saw Mobarakeh Steel Company’s CEO Bahram Sobhani discuss the potential of Iran’s steel industries and its projected development and output data.
The corporate executive stated that in the next couple of years, Iran’s net steel exports would outstrip those of previous years.  
Mehdi Karbasian, CEO of IMIDRO, a major government-owned industrial entity, focused on the broader picture concerning the development of mining and metal production in the Islamic Republic.
“Foreigners can now be 100% owners of Iranian industrial complexes, with the government making way for foreign direct investment,” he said.
Ellie Geranmayeh, a UK-based Iran specialist, noted how both sides, not just the European businesses, could benefit from the development of bilateral ties.
“Business partnership with Iran is an opportunity for both sides. Iranian business could learn a lot in terms of management from European partnership,” she said.
US State Department official Jarrett Blanc stressed to the eager business audience that his government has no issues with Europe trading with Iran, and that it was a “fiction to imagine great tensions between the US and European nations”.
He noted that financial transactions have been problematic, but noted that due to the sanctions on transactions still in place for US entities, this has been a major sticking point for their European offices.
Blanc added that currently if there were any queries from foreign businesses wanting to do trade with the Islamic Republic and if unsure about being penalized by the United States, they must contact the US Foreign Assets Control Office in Washington DC.
A special session was run by three risk consultancies, including Control Risks’ Henry Smith, who urged business when entering to be cautious about partners and to do due diligence.
On the sidelines of the event, several foreign and Iranian business groups also discussed potential deals for large northern European firms to enter the Iranian domestic shopping market.
One of the attendees of the meeting said they were serious about bringing European brands to Iran in the coming year.
Overall, the situation in Zurich had been more nuanced and realistic this year with delegates and companies understanding the issues affecting foreign entry into Iran. Nevertheless, the prevailing mood among delegates and speakers alike was positive.

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