Tehran, Iran, May 8
By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:
Iran is holding an international oil, gas, and petrochemical industrial exhibition in which a strong sense of hope prevails regarding the future possibility of Iran-world business boom as the country is now free of sanctions.
However, a general inquiry from various companies which have set up booths around the fairground tells of one running theme: the banking problems that still hinder transfer of money to or from Iran.
"Banking is a real problem. We have many projects that are currently let down because Iranian companies have no financer," Roberto Epicoco, manager of projects at the Italian Skem industrial consultation firm told Trend May 7.
He pointed out that his company is overseeing many petrochemical projects in Iran, including a major one in the production of polyolefin, all of which are waiting for banking relations to be established.
The financing problem continues despite sanctions in that many major Western banks still lack confidence to start business with Iran. Another major problem is that US primary sanctions which include a ban on the use of the dollar in business with Iran are still in place.
"Iran has one of the biggest markets all around the world. It needs recovery by foreign companies, but financing is needed to do that," said the manager of a South Korean company, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Trend also spoke with Shayan Mesri, the media relations officer of the Society of Iranian Petroleum Industry Equipment Manufacturers which is an umbrella organization with over 700 companies.
"Iranian companies have to deal with a lot of problems. There is the banking issue, but also insurance, tax, raw material procurement, customs laws, brain drain, liquidity. A chain of problems in fact," he said.
"The nuclear deal and removal of sanctions is surely a forward movement. But relations between Iranian and foreign sides need to be strengthened. We have surely felt the change. The volume of our correspondences abroad has grown much. The SWIFT is open. But banks still lack enough willingness to start business. And as you know, financing is very important in our business," said Afshin, a representative from Cimaghand Engineering Services which acts as agent for major European companies such as the German Hartmann.
Mehdi Sepahvand is Trend Agency's Tehran-based reporter. Follow him on Twitter @mehdisepahvand