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EghtesadOnline: Germany will continue to offer export and investment guarantees for companies doing business with Iran, its economy ministry said on Monday, adding that Berlin remained in dialogue with the US on exemptions for German companies from Iran sanctions.

The comment came hours before Washington reimposed sanctions on Tehran after the tick of midnight following US President Donald Trump's May announcement that the country has pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of Iran nuclear deal.

JCPOA was signed in 2015 and went into effect a year later, which meant international sanctions against Iran were a thing of the past in exchange for the country to scale back the scope of its nuclear program.

The first tranche of US sanctions, which took effect on Monday, target Iran's automotive sector, trade in gold and other key metals. The remaining sanctions are set to snap back on November 4, targeting Iran's energy sector and petroleum-based transactions, and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran, Financial Tribune reported.

Ever since Trump's announcement, the Europeans have been scrambling to preserve the nuclear deal.

“Export guarantees and investment guarantees from the Federal Ministry of Economics are still available to companies,” the German Economy Ministry said.

EU countries strongly opposed Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal, in part because many view Iran, a country of about 80 million with a large middle class, as an attractive market for European companies.

That was particularly true for German companies, which had a robust presence in Iran before world powers tightened sanctions against Tehran in 2012 over its nuclear program.

As soon as the West’s nuclear deal with Iran was signed in 2015, German businesses rushed back in. Germany’s then-economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, flew to Tehran a few days after the accord was sealed to meet the country’s president and drum up business.

At the time, the Federation of German Industries predicted exports to Iran would surge in the medium-term from €2.4 billion in 2014 to €10 billion in 2017. Those predictions weren’t borne out, however, with exports totaling just €3 billion last year, mainly due to continued US pressure on the Iranian government.

Nonetheless, German business never gave up its Iranian dreams. Years of sanctions left the country in sore need of the kind of capital goods and engineering acumen for which Germany is best known.

That was particularly true of the scores of mid-sized German businesses focused on building and maintaining infrastructure. Iran’s proximity—it’s just a five-hour flight away from Germany—and the lack of major competition made it all the more attractive.


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