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EghtesadOnline: Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture hosted a meeting of foreign diplomats and businessmen on Monday.

First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who attended the meeting as representatives of the government, weighed in on Iran’s capacity to attract foreign investment as well as on tactics to counter looming US sanctions against Iran.

On May 8, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and unilaterally restored sanctions on the country, in defiance of the deal’s five other signatories—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. The restored sanctions are set to go into effect in two waves in August and November, and will also punish foreign companies and banks that continue to do business with Iran. 

Jahangiri said Americans have explicitly stated that their goal is to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero by November.  “This is wishful thinking, as the world needs our oil and we are capable of using new strategies to export oil. We’re all set to mount smart resistance to sanctions,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

Calling for broader participation of the private sector in solving the country’s economic problems, the vice president said the government and the private sector must act in unison to move the country forward.

“The Islamic Republic gains its legitimacy and power from its people and not from foreign resources. It has been the most powerful country in the [Middle East] region for close to four decades now and we’ll continue to remain so,” Mehr News Agency quoted the foreign minister as saying.

Referring to the significance of the private sector and small- and medium-sized enterprises, Zarif said joint chambers between Iran and 77 countries will have meetings next week and hopefully these sessions will pave the way for the private sector to play a more dynamic role in the economy. 

  Billions of Dollars on the Line

US threats have put in jeopardy $30 billion worth of finance deals Iran signed with Austria, Italy, Denmark, China and South Korea last year (March 2017-18), Masoud Khansari, the president of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, said. 

Noting that US sanctions are against international laws and the basic rules of free trade, Khansari said a number of multinational companies and major European banks have failed to keep their businesses with Iran for fear of facing the ire of US sanctions.

France’s Total, CMA CGM, Swiss BCP bank and Germany’s No.2 lender DZ Bank are among those who have recently ended their operations in Iran, lest they face US punitive measures.

“However, cooperation between the Iranian private sector and Europe through SMEs is not impossible. Today, SMEs are the driving force of many economies,” he added. 

Also in attendance was Austrian Ambassador in Tehran Stefan Scholz who said the European Union is willing to see financial channels activated for Iran. 

“After all, the EU has incurred losses to the tune of around $10 billion due to the restriction of exports to Iran,” he said.  

 

Private Sector US sanctions Tehran Chamber of Commerce Foreign Diplomats