US, Europe Promise to Give Iran Trade Assurance

US, Europe Promise to Give Iran Trade AssuranceUS, Europe Promise to Give Iran Trade Assurance

The US and European powers reaffirmed commitment on Thursday to being responsive to the concerns of global firms wary of doing business with the newly sanctions-free Iran by providing assurance and "expeditious" clarifications on the lingering US restrictions.

The United States, Britain, France and Germany, which along with Russia and China negotiated the nuclear accord with Iran, issued a joint statement meant to reassure skeptical foreign investors as part of renewed efforts to address Iran's grievances.

"There are now extensive economic opportunities for companies and financial institutions in Europe and around the world to do business in Iran," the statement said.

"The interest of European and other global firms in Iran is high and it is in our interest and the interest of the international community to ensure that the [deal] works for all participants, including by delivering benefit to the Iranian people. This includes the reengagement of European banks and businesses in Iran," said the statement, carried by the website of the US Department of State

Iran emerged from years of nuclear sanctions in January when the UN nuclear agency confirmed it has put in place temporary constraints on its nuclear program under a historic deal with major powers.

Tehran has been complaining about the remaining US non-nuclear sanctions that have disrupted the highly-anticipated flow of foreign funds and technology into its ailing economy.

Under vague US regulations, non-US banks are banned from clearing the dollar-denominated transactions involving Iranian companies through the US financial system.

"We will not stand in the way of permitted business activity with Iran, and we will not stand in the way of international firms or financial institutions' engaging with Iran, as long as they follow all applicable laws."

The four powers acknowledged their pledge under the accord to ensure Iran's access in areas of trade, technology, finance and energy, saying, "In this context, the EU and its member states are exploring possible areas of cooperation with Iran, including the use of export credits to facilitate trade, project financing and investment in Iran. Importantly, the due diligence required for sanctions compliance is by no means unique to business opportunities in Iran."

*** Additional Guidance

They promised to continue providing global firms with explanations on how to stand clear of US sanctions in their dealings with Iranians and offered to answer any questions companies might have in this relation.

"Our governments have provided extensive guidance on the scope of sanctions lifted and those that remain in place and will continue to do so, including through additional guidance," the statement said.

"We understand that firms may continue to have specific sanctions-related questions or concerns about doing business in Iran, and we stand ready to provide expeditious clarifications.

"We encourage firms to approach our governments to address remaining questions, rather than forgo opportunities due to misperceptions or lack of information."

The four powers noted that there are steps to be taken by Tehran itself to help improve the prospects of foreign investors by overcoming business security challenges in the domestic market.

"There are factors within Iran's control that have influenced companies' decision-making and hindered Iran's economic progress," the statement said.

"For Iran to realize the economic improvement it desires, it will also have to take steps to create an environment conducive to international investment ... We are ready to fully support Iran's efforts in this process."