London’s New Envoy Sees Positive Path Ahead
Thursday, April 26, 2018

London’s New Envoy in Tehran Sees Positive Path Ahead

London is keen to work toward expanding relations with Tehran in all areas, particularly trade and investment, says the new British ambassador, Rob Macaire. 
In a talk with IRNA published Tuesday, Macaire—who will succeed Nicholas Hopton in May — said positive developments have taken place in bilateral ties after the two sides reopened their embassies in 2015. The UK government shut down its embassy in 2011 after it was stormed in protest against new sanctions imposed by London. Iran's Embassy in London  was also ordered closed. 
"We've made a lot of progress. Obviously we have diplomatic relations between our countries; we have fully functioning embassies; we have full visa services in both capitals; we have a lot of opportunities in trade and increase in contacts on the cultural, tourism and people to people level. So I think things are going well." 
  Reciprocal Enthusiasm
Macaire says there is a huge amount of enthusiasm and interest on both sides to enhance the trading relationship. 
Citing the closure of the embassies, he noted, "We are therefore starting from a relatively low base but over the last year trade has more than doubled, and we have increased the size of the team in our embassy supporting trade from nothing up to nine people now."
There is a significant effort going on to increase the volume of trade, he said, adding, "There are lots more that we can do and there is great potential." 
Asked about his plan of action, he pledged that he would do whatever he can "to help improve the environment for trade and investment between our countries." 
   Trade Barriers  
The diplomat took stock of the fact that foreign investors are still wary of trading with or investing in Iran fearing penalties from the remaining unilateral US sanctions and Washington’s unending hostility toward Tehran. "I think, as everyone knows, there is a challenge for companies wanting to do business in Iran because of the attitude of the international banks who are concerned and nervous about the impact of primary sanctions. But we have had from the British government side a continued dialogue with the banks and will continue to do that. It is our position to encourage greater trade and there is more that I think can be done." 
  Better Understanding 
Macaire added that his mission will seek to make British companies and banks better understand the market in Iran. 
At the same time, he expects Tehran to take positive measures through improving banking standards and making trade much easier.  The British government is also keen to see a resolution to consular cases which are an obstacle to bilateral relations, he noted. 
  Visa Services 
As for the difficulty in obtaining British visa for Iranians, Macaire said he wants to see good services for legitimate travelers. 
"I think we have made a lot of progress on visas. We have moved from not having a service in Tehran to having full visa service. We have recently considerably increased the number of appointments that we offer in Tehran. I would like to see that increase further. I would like to see more opportunities." 
In addition, he said differences between the two governments on various regional and international issues can be addressed through "more and deeper dialogue".  
On regional issues, Macaire said Iran has a "very important role" to play. "There are issues in which Britain has concerns, but we believe that by working in a dialogue with Iran, we can make progress on some of the issues."


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