News ID: 215339
Published: 0229 GMT May 19, 2018

Joint chamber head: Germans exploring ways to cooperate with Iran after US deal exit

Joint chamber head: Germans exploring ways to cooperate with Iran after US deal exit

By Sadeq Dehqan & Farzam Vanaki

Following US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), German companies are still willing to remain in the Iranian market and are exploring ways to continue cooperation with the Middle Eastern state.

Abbas Ali Qasaeizadeh, the head of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added trade relations between the two countries have expanded significantly following the signing (July 2015) and going into effect (January 2016) of the JCPOA.

Speaking to Iran Daily, he said the two countries have traditionally had high-level economic ties, particularly in the industrial sector, since a century ago.

Qasaeizadeh added during all these years, Iran's relations with Germany have been better than those of the Middle Eastern state with any other Western nation.

After the World War II, Germany has never pursued belligerent policies toward any country, he said, adding the people of the country focused on the development of their industry.

The head of the joint commerce chamber said following World War II, Germany has always adopted more moderate policies and approaches toward global issues than France and the UK.

He noted that Germany's economic and industrial activities in Iran peaked prior to the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, adding they continued after the revolution.

"Since then, they have hardly ever had any political tension with us."

He added Germany is an industrial and advanced country which manufactures the best industrial machinery in the world.

Qasaeizadeh underlined that German products have always been used in Iranian industries.

Commenting on the impact the JCPOA on the two states economic relations, he said annual trade between Iran and Germany stood at up to €2.5 billion prior to the signing of the Iran nuclear deal at a time when Western sanctions on Tehran had intensified.

"Following the going into effect of the JCPOA, however, the figure tripled to between €5 billion and €6 billion per year."

Turning to the visits by German trade and economic delegations to Iran, he said over the past 12 months, Germans have made the largest number of political and economic trips to the country.

"Over 50 economic, industrial and trade delegations comprising up to 80 members traveled to Iran during this period for business."

He put the present membership of the two countries' joint chamber of commerce at 2,000, saying of this figure 10 percent are from Germany and the rest are Iranians.

"All of them are involved in the industrial sector."

Qasaeizadeh said at present, Germany is Iran's number one European trade partner, adding, following China and the UAE, the European state ranks third among Iran's trade partners in the world.

He noted that the balance in trade between Tehran and Berlin is in favor of the latter.

"Iran mainly exports oil and gas condensates to Germany. On the other hand, capital goods, such as industrial machinery, mostly comprises Germany's overseas sales to Iran."

Qasaeizadeh said in the past few years, Germany's exports of equipment and machinery to generate renewable energies to Iran have witnessed a growth, adding a large number of German firms are currently involved in activities in southern and southeastern Iran.

Turning to US exit from the Iran nuclear deal, he regretted that naturally, Washington's move can reduce the level of Tehran's relations with Western countries.

Oil, gas, gas condensates and oil byproducts constitute Iran's major exports to Europe, Qasaeizadeh said, adding many European firms currently in contract with Iran will be impacted by the US move, as they also have close and strong relations with Washington.

"Certainly the US will not allow them to do so if they seek to simultaneously cooperate with Iran. Washington will impose fines on them."

Commenting on the interest Western companies express in enhancing economic cooperation with Iran, he said after the US exited the Iran nuclear deal, "we witnessed" that the leaders of the UK, Germany and France all did their best to persuade the US not to withdraw from the JCPOA.

"This sends positive signals to Iran that Europeans are willing to continue their collaborations with the country."

On Europe's approach following Washington's exit from the deal, he maintained that the Europeans are attempting to activate Iran sanctions blocking law — a law that bans European companies from complying with US sanctions against Iran — to help their firms be exempted from US fines.

Qasaeizadeh said Europeans have the same experience of not accompanying US in imposing sanctions on Cuba, adding in the 90s, when the US enforced severe sanctions on Havana, Europeans refrained from accompanying Washington and adopted laws enabling European companies to continue their cooperation with the Caribbean island nation.

He described US move of placing countries under pressure to compel them not to collaborate with Iran as illegal, saying based on the laws and regulations of the World Trade Organization, all states are legitimately permitted to engage in trade with each other freely.

"It is meaningless to enforce restricting laws in this regard."

Between the next three and six months, US will do its best to pressurize international oil companies to stop their cooperation with Iran, he said, adding, "In such a circumstance, the role played by the [Iranian] diplomacy apparatus becomes very important. As prior to this, the Iranian negotiation team, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, managed to work out the JCPOA in Iran's favor, this team is required to receive the needed guarantees from the Europeans through talks to help the cooperation between Tehran and Europe continues within the framework of the international agreement.

"This will prevent US exit from dealing any blows to our economy as policies play a very important in managing a [country's] financial system and helping it grow."

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