Economy, Domestic Economy

Polish Investment in Iran a Year Since Sanctions Removal

Jacek SosnowskiJacek Sosnowski

January 16, 2016, is remembered as the day sanctions against Iran officially began to roll back.

The move freed Iran to sell much more oil and gain control of the roughly $100 billion in impounded money, ending a prolonged isolation that drove the country into a deep economic malaise.

Poland was among the first countries to approach Iran once the process of lifting international sanctions started.

Radio Poland has interviewed Jacek Sosnowski, the chairman of the Polish-Iranian Business Council, in Warsaw about Polish inroads into the Iranian market post-sanctions.

“We cannot hope for a country that is 80 million in population, a country that suffered from western sanctions for a good few years that this country will now buy whatever we try to sell. What we need to do, both Poland and Iran, we need to cooperate on technology. We need to cooperate on human resources and we need to cooperate on mutual trade,” Sosnowski said. Below is the full text of the interview:

Radio Poland: Poland was among, not the biggest, but the first countries that jumped on board and there were ministers going and senate speakers, business delegations...

Sosnowski: Comparing our delegations, comparing our missions to the missions and delegations and trips of other European countries, we were one of the smallest. Maybe one of the first, but one of the smallest players. We do not have what they want. They want money. They simply ran out of money. They want investment.

  We have ideas.

We have ideas. They have ideas too. They have perfect idea specialists. Let’s think about doing business in a different way. Doing business is not only selling what we have. Doing business is also cooperating on the level of science. They have fantastic universities. They have great technical universities, medical universities. We can bring their specialists. We can exchange technologies. And we can cooperate on this. Money comes next.

Back in November, Polish business dailies were reporting that energy giants Lotus and PGNiG already started cooperation with Iran and Orlen may follow. So which branches are the most potential, a year on?

What polish economy wants to be on the top of this list is energy definitely. There is a great deal of small and medium enterprises that may benefit from cooperating with Iran in trade. Food; we have a number of companies that are associated in the Polish-Iranian Business Council and are now trading with Iranians. That’s tomato, pistachio, also sweets. Also technology; medical sector is expanding very well in Iran. What we have is technology.

Speaking from your perspective as the chairman of the Polish-Iranian Business Council, have you noticed through the last year much more interest from both sides: questions about how to do business in Poland, and questions in Poland on how to approach Iran?

Every day we receive at least two or three emails asking about the conditions. What we need to remember is we, as Poland, we are a bit afraid of doing business with Iranians and Iranians are a bit afraid of doing business with us.

Because we don’t know each other well?

We don’t know each other well. Last few years were years without any proper business between the two countries.

There were no delegations here within the last year. No?

There were no delegations.

Or at least no high-ranking…

And the next thing is the banking system. That’s the biggest obstacle actually. Because every businessperson knows that trade or, whatever, buying or selling from or to Iran is much cheaper if we can transfer the money directly to the Iranian bank. Now still we need to do everything through, for example, Dubai. It raises the cost. That’s the biggest problem.

Can we talk of any Polish success story in Iran? Any product, any idea that caught on?

Yeah, you walk down the streets of Tehran, what you see very often is billboards or commercials of Polish brands, including glassworks. What you see in the stores is Polish products. Very often these products were not brought to Iran officially and not directly.

One of the companies associated with PIBC is a transport company and, as for now, every week there is a full truck of car parts coming to and from Iran. Because the countries are very similar. We have good engineers. We have good car part manufacturers and we can say we specialize in it.

What is 2017 bringing for both sides? Do we know there are any delegations, and business meetings?

On such a high level, business comes after politics. Politics must be calm. Politics must be proper, not attacking anybody and not insulting. If politics is calm, we will do good business, slowly, but steadily.

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