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EghtesadOnline: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended his third high-level meeting with private sector representatives in recent weeks and renewed his support for the sector to combat US sanctions, the first batch of which will be implemented in a matter of days.

"We deem it our duty to be at the service of private sector businesses and be facilitators of their activities," he told the meeting at the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, which was also attended by Iranian ambassadors and heads of missions to other countries.

The official pointed out that history shows the US has imposed the highest number of sanctions against other nations, showing that "the US is addicted to sanctioning", ICCIMA's website reported.

However, he added, what made US sanctions potent the last time was the support of other nations, according to Financial Tribune.

"This time things are different and the US cannot possibly claim to be a representative of the global order since it now stands against the same global economic liberalism that it has helped create over the course of decades," he said.

"Europe and European businesses must today decide whether they want to follow US interests or in other words the interests of [US President Donald] Trump or they want to pursue European interests."

According to Zarif, the current divide between US and Europe can be a new opportunity for Iran, which could be best tapped into through the private sector. He pledged his support for the operations of small- and medium-sized European enterprises in Iran and said it will provide the Iranian private sector with an opportunity to grow and nullify US sanctions.

"We are sure that we can move things forward today better than before because the world is with us," Zarif said. "Private sector cooperation is needed more than ever in this regard. We can transform economic pressures to increase local manufacturing and boost non-oil exports to show the Americans that they must abandon their addiction because the world has come to the same conclusion."

ICCIMA chief Gholamhossein Shafei also delivered a keynote speech at the event and made three major proposals to the diplomatic apparatus. 

Shafei said private sector representatives want to create a joint expert committee comprising of ICCIMA and Foreign Ministry officials to train professionals capable of conducting international negotiations. He also called for preparing the ground to establish preferential and free trade agreements between Iran and target countries, and focusing of economic diplomacy to promote trade and investments.

"The government must use its capabilities to prepare the ground for the private sector so that they can employ global opportunities," he said.

He said closer ties between ICCIMA and the Foreign Ministry are an effective link missing prior to the President Hassan Rouhani's administration, but also added that the level of joint efforts between the two entities is not yet satisfactory.

Shafei referred to sanctions on petrochemical products and said in light of the market's nature and since the private sector has an active presence in their exports, implementing sanctions on them does not happen easily and most probably will only increase costs.

The ICCIMA president said Iranian exporters were bereft of banking relations even after the nuclear deal, adding that they will manage as they have in the past few years.

Shafei told the gathering that a report on the achievements of the meeting will be delivered to related officials. 

Iranian ambassadors and businesspeople formed 51 task groups to evaluate conditions concerning trade with 51 target countries. Reviewing banking troubles and solutions for transferring funds, insurance problems, customs and transit issues, operations of SMEs, participation in trade exhibitions and conferences, resolving problems among traders and evaluating potentials for signing preferential and free trade agreements were among the most important issues discussed in the meeting.


Zarif Mohammad Javad Zarif sanctions Private Sector US sanctions