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E. Asian companies eyeing Iran’s market as US sanctions loom

Tehran, As the deadline of US sanctions against Iran is inching closer, Asian businessmen and traders are hopeful to find ways for maintaining their market in the Middle Eastern country.

More than two months ago, US President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran.

He has also re-imposed the economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted partially in exchange for a curb in the country's nuclear program. The first set of sanctions will take effect on August 6.

The decision on withdrawal was made in spite of several reports of the international nuclear watchdog on Iran's commitment to the deal.

Many foreign companies have enhanced their trade relations with Iran, signing agreements and memoranda of understanding; but with the new measures, the future of the agreements has become obscure.

The measures have prompted some countries, particularly the major customers of Iran's oil, to ask Washington for waivers.

Iran with the second largest population in the Middle East and big reserves of oil, gas and minerals is a heaven for investors and manufacturers.

However, experts doubt on the effectiveness of the measures. The US sanctions on Iran's oil will not work as the world is dependent on the crude, a Chinese analyst told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) last week.

'Many countries as well as private companies are dependent on Iran's oil supplying their fuel; therefore, it is their right to decide on buying oil from Iran according to their interests,' said Wu Chenghui senior fellow at the Chinese Institute of World Economics and Politics.

'The countries' trades with each other are based on their bilateral interests,' 'They should not be forced by the US to avoid buying oil from Iran,' the analyst added.

A sales director of a Chinese elevator manufacturing company said due to the fast growth of Iran's economy, Chinese companies are interested to have their share of Iran's market.

Describing Iran's market as a potential one for economic activities, Chao Wu expressed hope that the sanctions will not impede trades.

Chao, who was speaking at elevators, escalators and lifts exhibition (Liftex 2018), said despite the restrictions, businesspeople are attracted by new opportunities in Iran; so they are following the political developments to see what will happen in the near future.

The 7th international Exhibition of Elevators, Industrial and Related Equipment was held on July 19 - 22 in Tehran with participation of 90 foreign and 190 domestic firms. The event was simutaneously held with Tehran international stone fair International Exhibition (IRSE).

Another Chinese businessman, Alex Shen, whose country has been active in Iran since 10 years ago and was taking part in the exhibition for the third time, also described Iran as a big market.

There are some challenges, however,facing the Chinese companies, such as banking and shipping issues, he said expressing hope that they would be removed in near future.

The Chinese manager described the relations, particularly the economic ties, between Iran and China as friendly, saying that Beijing will support Iran against the new sanctions the US is imposing on Iran.

He also welcomed the idea of doing business in national currencies, arguing that due to the rising power of China in international arena, its currency Yuan will increasingly get more powerful, too.

A Korean businessman, whose country was participating in the exhibition, expressed satisfaction on the ease of doing business with Iran and said he was sanguine about the future of the trade.

Sunggyu Cho, CEO, believed it was unlikely that the US move on the nuclear deal affect the business ties between Iran and South Korea.

Although having relations with the US is important to us, it does not mean that Korea will leave Iran's market just because the US has withdrawn from the nuclear deal, he said.

*Mahdokht Pazoki is a member of IRNA English News Desk

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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