Iran looking at Austria as gate to EU business

Iran looking at Austria as gate to EU business

Fresh signs have appeared that show Iran’s business community wants the country’s trade ties with Austria to grow in a move that a leading commercial figure in Tehran says could offset the impacts of returning US sanctions against Iran.

Pedram Soltani, the vice president of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), said in Tehran on Saturday that Tehran-Vienna cooperation could help preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran which US President Donald Trump is trying to kill.

Such cooperation, Soltani added, could also encourage other European countries to keep the door of negotiations with Iran open.

He said Iran needed to do more to use what he described as an “active economic diplomacy” to expand its trade ties with other countries, adding that this would foil attempts to hamper business with Iran – a strategy which Soltani said was the central theme of the Iran policy of Trump’s administration.  

He said there is still a significant potential for Iran and Austria to expand their trade ties beyond the current levels of around $600 million per year.

Soltani emphasized that a wider economic cooperation between the two countries could eventually expand Iran’s reach into the heart of Europe, particularly considering Vienna’s strategic location in the continent.

“Austria can become a base for Iran’s transactions with other European countries,” he told the ICCIMA news website. This, Soltani added, could enable Iran to use Vienna’s economic facilities to trade with Austria’s neighbors.

Nevertheless, he emphasized that one needed to be “realistic” towards the prospects of the cooperation of European companies with Iran specifically in light of US sanctions against Iran.

“We should not expect major European companies to be ready to invest in the Iranian economy because many of them have high stakes in the US and a major of their financial transactions go through the American banking system,” Soltani emphasized.

He said Iran would have to invest on the existing potentials in working with Austrian SMEs considering that they are less vulnerable to US pressures. 

Soltani emphasized that Iran will need to prove the economic gains that European companies in general – and Austrian companies in particular – would obtain as a result of working with it.


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