What Happened in Berlin?
The positive atmosphere following the latest round of nuclear talks in Geneva encouraged some European sides to reinvigorate commercial relations with Iran. Thus we made a trip to Berlin, Germany, alongside an Iranian delegation comprising Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, the Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade and a number of deputy ministers and delegates from the private - sector to discuss possibilities of cooperation between the two nations and to have a productive meeting with Iranians in Germany.
The positive atmosphere following the latest round of nuclear talks in Geneva encouraged some European sides to reinvigorate commercial relations with Iran. Thus we made a trip to Berlin, Germany, alongside an Iranian delegation comprising Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, the Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade and a number of deputy ministers and delegates from the private-sector to discuss possibilities of cooperation between the two nations and to have a productive meeting with Iranians in Germany.
The current atmosphere among European companies clearly indicates their willingness to reestablish ties with Iran, as they try to seize the increasing opportunities in the country and not to fall behind in competition.
Germans had a perfect understanding of the situation and invited an Iranian delegation through one of the long-standing industrial associations in Germany, which is mainly focused on developing relations with African and the Middle Eastern countries, to attend a forum to explore investment opportunities as well as technical and economic cooperation. Though short on time, the Minister and his entourage managed to demonstrate a positive image of Iran's economy and introduced economic and investment potentials of the country to their German counterparts.
The Minister of Industry made an excellent speech in the forum and comprehensively illustrated the relations between the two sides. Speaking of the sanctions and new opportunities for investment, he assured German delegates of a safe trip and a secure investment in Iran. The participation of the highest-ranking officials of Iran's industry along with the private sector for the purpose of negotiating with German entrepreneurs and owners of industries is an unprecedented event which has opened a new window of opportunities for industrial development of the country.
Encouraging Germans to invest
Mehdi Karbasian, the Chairman of IMIDRO (Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization), Ali Ashraf Afkhami, the managing director of Bank of Industry and Mine and Valiollah Afkhami, the head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran and I were among the deputies that accompanied the Minister in this trip. Later on in the forum, Karbasian, as the chairman of the board of IMIDRO- discussed the potential areas of investment in mines and mining industries.
Mohammad Hasan Payvandi, the deputy head of National Iranian Petrochemical Company was another Iranian speaker in the forum. Peyvandi elaborated on Iran's plans for the development of petrochemical industry, thoroughly examined the future of investment in this area and presented various solutions for further cooperation of the two nations in petrochemical industry.
The head of Bank of Industry and Mine also spoke of his institution's support structure for various industries and described their role in opening letters of credit and financing as well as methods of cooperation with German banks.
The replacement of some of the Western companies with East Asian manufacturers during the sanctions was one of the key areas of concern for German industrialists. The Iranian delegation proudly announced that about $95 billion worth of transactions were conducted despite severe sanctions and that Iranian businesses and private sector managed to make their way into new markets and to successfully import necessary goods in spite of the sanctions.
We took advantage of the opportunity to inform German industrialists of the tendency of Iranian consumers to favor German products and also stressed that they can reclaim their position in Iran's market.
German brands have been popular among Iranians for decades, thanks to enormous efforts of German experts and analysts in portraying a reliable image of German products for Iranian consumers. But Germans are afraid that their waning presence in Iran's market could prove costly and that they might lose their place to other companies and manufacturers. German industrialists, among all, are known for their conservative approach and their unwillingness to take risks unlike the French and Italians. During a Q&A session, the German side were expectedly curious about the future of negotiations and wanted to know how close they are to reaching a finalized deal and whether they can resume commercial activities in Iran confidently.
Our German counterparts regretted the missed opportunities as a result of the sanctions, as this was visible all over their faces, but they were much eager to compensate for their low status in Iranian markets. We advised them not to be afraid of the sanctions and follow the footsteps of Iranian industrialists and launch anti-sanctions campaigns in Germany; a measure which would ease the pressure of the sanctions and increases the reliability of investment in Iran.
Areas of Cooperation
commercial relationship between two countries relies on industry development. Germany is one of the leading manufacturers of mechanical machineries and petrochemical equipments. There is a close relationship between the two nations in the field of chemical industries which is very much expandable. German manufacturers can also make a presence in the field of tool-making and agriculture industries and introduce their cutting-edge technologies to Iranians.
The hall was full of people as the attendance of the audience was exceptional. All invitees were present in order to make a strong comeback to Iranian markets. The Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade aims to increase the number of such trips in order to prepare the ground for the export of domestic products as well as attracting foreign investments and technologies for further industrial growth. In the next phase of the trip, we gave a visit to an exhibition which former German Chancellor had attended earlier. Nematzadeh held talks with the representatives of a number of German manufacturers and also had a meeting with Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs and Energy who was the organizer of the event.