EghtesadOnline: President of Swedish Trade and Invest Council Ylva Berg believes that there is plenty of interest from Swedish firms to offer high quality and sustainable solutions to Iran.
In an exclusive interview with IRNA in Stockhol, Berg said it is very important that there are more than 70 thousand Iranians living in Sweden right now.
She added Sweden is a pretty small country and it has only 10 Million people here. So they are a very important group of people for us that have integrated very well in Sweden and are in a very important position.
Iran has a good reputation in Sweden because it has been a very important trade partner to us historically before pre-sanctions, the Swedish businesswoman said.
'We see the need that Iran has for investments is very well matching where Sweden has a comparative advantage; we think that Swedish companies would have a very good possibility to offer high quality and sustainable solutions.
The following is excerpts of the interview:
Q. What developments have been done after the lifting of sanctions?
A. My organization helps Swedish companies that would like to do business or accelerate their business in Iran and for that purpose we have opened up an office in Tehran. We currently have 3 people working for us in Tehran and hoping to have more people to that office as soon as we have resolved the issue of financing.
We have also had people working in Tehran since 2 and half years ago, so they have been flying in and out from Dubai the last 2 and half years.
When it comes to financing, that is a key for many of the Swedish companies to resolve so we really can accelerate the trade between Sweden and Iran, so that we can start to invest properly in Iran to use Iran as a hub for export and a gateway to Asia.
We have been working pretty hard to resolve to get with our colleagues from the Swedish export Credit facilitators. They are normally a very good partner when it comes to financing deals but they are unable to finance firms in Iran and we are trying to see if we can find a way to come around that.
We had discussions with the US embassy in Stockholm to see how we can work with OFAC to find ways around so that we can facilitate the financing. Right now, we are in a position where we are holding off and waiting to see what new president in the US will mean to this in the future.
So Iran is very important from strategic perspective.
Q. How much interest is there from Swedish companies to work with Iran?
A. I would say that the Swedish companies are very interested in dealing with Iran.
The most urgent need that Iran is facing is big infrastructure investment such as water, environment, rail road, all types of transportations, health care issues, energy which Sweden has comparative solutions.
Our companies see this opportunity, but the obstacle is finance which is something that we are trying to resolve.
Q. Are you referring to banking issues when you say finance problem?
A. It is not only banking. Financing consists of different parts; it is both transferring of money, but it is also how you finance actual affairs. So every time that a big deal is done you always have to find someone financing it and that is really the issue that Iran is facing right now because all European countries want to do business with Iran but we are struggling with financing the business.
Q. What are the obstacles in finance?
A. It is the sanctions from the US side. There are still obstacles for a company who has a lot of business with US to do business with Iran.
The US is our third most important trade partner, so we need to kind of adjustment and see how we can live by their rules but at the same time we want to create a close relationship to Iran
Q. US is committed under JCPOA to facilitate trade with Iran. What obstacles are there you referring to?
A. One of the problems is that it is not clear. It is a gray area that is ambiguous and that is what is creating all uncertainty.
Because of this you do not know whether you will be imposed fines. I think it is the ambiguity which we need to get rid of.
Q. What effects would Donald Trump’s victory have on trade relationship with Iran?
A. It is very early to comment and you can only speculate what the effects will be; but I think everyone hopes that the process of opening of relationships with Iran will proceed in the same fashion as before and accelerate.
We think it is important for Iran and the rest of the world that we come to a state of normality.
One important thing is that we have to find other channels to work through and I think to work actively and make sure that Iran has a possibility to join the World Trade Organization will be very important
This is an avenue that we have to pursue no matter what will come out of US election.