In a meeting that was organized and hosted by Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture the Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri alongside Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addressed foreign businessmen and diplomats to discuss the latest developments concerning the US reimposing of the economic sanctions on Iran and also to underline Iran’s capacity to attract foreign investment and propose strategies to reverse the US sanctions on Iran.
Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the nuclear deal and to once more impose economic sanctions on Iran on May 8th has initiated a lot of agitation and concerns amongst foreign businesses and enterprises that had excitedly started to expand their businesses with Iran since the famous nuclear deal was sealed with Iran in 2015. Donald Trump’s decision came as a shock to his European allies given that the International Atomic Energy Agency, had repeatedly declared that the deal was fully functioning and that Iran’s behavior was in line with its commitments to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Iranian officials though have stated that if the European participants of the deal cannot provide a solution to stand up against the US sanctions Iran will also renounce the settlement.
Mr.Khansari, the president of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture in the opening speech stated that: “Following Iran’s historic agreement with 5+1 over its peaceful nuclear program there was a massive inflow of European enterprises and companies who were enthusiastic to expand their businesses in Iran which in every respect offered them a desirable and unique market ”. Stressing on the role the Iranian private sector has played over the past few years in attracting foreign investors and businesses Khansari noted: “despite the increase in Iran’s oil export in the post-sanctions era, Iran also witnessed a record high of exporting $73 billion worth of none-oil-related products in 2017 which would not have been achieved without the active participation and collaboration of the private sector with its European counterparts”. Condemning the US subversive attitude the head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce further explained that in the past year Iran has signed $30 billion worth of financial deals with Austrian, Danish, Italian, Chinese and Korean banks to secure allocation of bank credit all of which are in jeopardy now in light of the US inequitable withdrawal from the JCPOA and with its continuous bullying and threatening to sanction the companies and banks that are going to continue to work with Iran. Highlighting the role that the private sector as the engine of country’s economy can play in finding a way out of this challenging situation, Khansari explained that small and medium-sized European enterprises should proceed with their liaison with their Iranian counterparts with the support of their respective governments. Mr. Khansari noted that in an effort to support the private sector in Iran and strengthen its relationship with international market, TCCIM as the largest organization that represents the private sector in Iran, established a “Center of Investment and Consultancy Services” the key aim of which is to identify the investment opportunities in Iran and introduce them to the potential investors both inside and outside Iran. The purpose of this center further explained Mr. Khansari is to better the working condition for the private sector in Iran on the one hand, and on the other, to detect and eliminate the obstacles that stand in the way of foreign investors who wish to enter the Iranian market.
Mohammad Javad Zarif the Foreign Prime minister of Iran stressed that Europe has an important decision to make on how it is going to respond against the US bullying and indicated that Iran’s negotiations with Europe are still ongoing to assure that in practice Iran will not have an issue exporting its oil; its economic relation in different fields including that of banking, trade, insurance, marine industry and air cargo is going to remain the same; and that the relationship between the Iranian private sector and its European counterparts will be safeguarded. Javad Zarif stated that in all the meetings that Iran has had since the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, all our allies including the UK, France, Germany, China, Russia and the EU have condemned the US illegitimate actions and emphasized on their commitment towards JCPOA.
Zarif stressed that: “our European allies are well aware that Iran is one of the safest and most secure markets they can find and that despite the pressures that are being imposed by the US, there is still a strong political will to partake actively in Iran in the world”. Also emphasizing on the important role the private sector can play in strengthening the relation between both sides Zarif noted: “Iran’s private sector as a genuine representative of the people of Iran in the economic field has the capacity to tackle the difficulties that Iran’s economy is going with reimposing of the sanctions”. Condemning the US actions Zarif stated that the current government of the US has made a habit of unilaterally violating its international agreements and therefore needs to face the consequences of its breaking of the law and its acting irresponsibly. Zarif stressed if the US actions are going to go unpunished it will put the political and economic discipline of the world that we live in today in great jeopardy.
Also condemning the US actions the First Vice President Es’hagh Jahangiri described the US actions and intentions to claim an economic war on Iran and preventing its oil export as a “wishful thinking”. Jahangiri explained that Iran is now entering a new phase that despite its challenges can still be managed and turned into an opportunity for Iran with an intelligent economic resistance plan. Emphasizing as well on the important role of the private sector in getting Iran through this phase, Jahangiri noted that we must draw on the capacities and potentials that the private sector has to offer to better our economic relationship with other counties. Jahangiri explained that Iran has envisioned different scenarios that might unfold in the months ahead and accordingly come up with intelligent resistance plan of actions to tackle the economic bottlenecks.
The foreign ambassadors and diplomats also made some remarks in this meeting and expressed their willingness to see the continuation of the economic collaboration between Iran and Europe. The Austrian Ambassador to Tehran, Stefan Scholz expressed his hope for Iran and Europe to come up with ways to continue their economic interactions in spite of the US policies. Scholz suggested that Iran should facilitate the use of digital and cryptocurrencies while taking the required measures such as cooperating with European and Iranian regulators and also joining the FATF’s convention to ensure that illegal economic activities such as money laundering are prevented. Highlighting the importance of mutual trust between Iran and Europe, Scholz explained that as a part of their agreement Europe could facilitate domestic production in Iran on the condition that Iran lifts the ban on import of 1400 items. Scholz indicated that exiting from and restricting the economic relationship with Iran is going to cost Europe $10 billion.
Also addressing the attendees, the Chinese ambassador to Iran, Mr. Pang Sen highlighted the importance of JCPOA for stability and peace in the region. Mr. Sen indicated that China is fully committed towards the JCPOA and is going to support it as long as Iran also stays committed. Mentioning the historical ties between the two countries, Sen noted that China is making endeavors to revitalize the “Silk Road” to further the trade and economic collaborations with Iran.
Also addressing attendees, Rob Macaire the British embassy to Iran indicated that in line with EU and other countries the UK is also committed to JCPOA and emphasized that it is only fair that Iran benefits from the advantages of the deal as long as it is acting responsibly towards its JCPOA commitments. Urging the European countries to go beyond verbal support and take practical steps to expand their economic ties with Iran, Macaire indicated that Europe and London, in particular, are working very hard to come up with solutions to counter the US sanctions. Furthermore, Macaire highlighted the importance of arranging more meetings with the Iranian private sector to exchange views regarding the ways in which Iran and Europe can expand their economic collaborations with one another. Also raising the FATF matter Macaire emphasized that by taking cautionary measures such as joining FATF Iran can help eliminate the potential concerns that the international community may have regarding its goals and activities.