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EghtesadOnline: High-level private sector officials of Iran and the Czech Republic have met in Tehran to discuss bilateral commercial ties despite the looming reimposition of US sanctions.

The Czech representatives maintained that they aim to expand their economic relations with the Islamic Republic.

Chairman of Czech-Slovak-Iranian Chamber of Commerce Jan Kavan, who was accompanied by the Central European nations' ambassador to Iran, Svatopluk Cumba, met with the president of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture in Tehran, the official news website of ICCIMA reported on Saturday.

During the meeting, ICCIMA Chairman Gholamhossein Shafei said many Czech products, especially glass and crystal goods, are very popular among Iranian consumers, Financial Tribune reported.

"But it's an utter shame that we see a number of [Czech] companies cutting ties with Iranian counterparts after the US exit from JCPOA, as this runs counter to the commitments they made in their contracts," he said, referring to the formal name of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The top private sector representative said ignoring contents of contracts leads to erosion of trust, something that will hamper business and bilateral ties in the future.

"Iranian businesspeople want to maintain cooperation with Czech counterparts and the fact that an Iran-Czech committee was formed about two weeks ago is proof of this fact," Shafei said.

Referring to Czech Republic as a gateway to the rest of the European Union for Iran, the official praised changes in recent years in the republic, which have given its private sector a more accentuated role that can boost Iran-Czech ties.

The ICCIMA chief hoped that the European bloc can remain committed to its financial promises to Iran and maintain relations to pave the way for small- and medium-sized enterprises of the two nations to work more closely.

Jan Kavan, the co-chair of the Czech-Slovak-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, said his country is committed to expanding economic and trade ties with Iran.

"But it must be considered that companies evaluate their level of risk in working with any country and move on that basis," he said. 

"The US is exerting a lot of pressure on European countries and many of them have been forced to cut ties with Iran to maintain their market in the US".

Kavan stressed, however, that the Czech government remains fully committed to agreements with Iran and wholeheartedly follows the EU in its support for the nuclear deal. 

"US sanctions are not accepted by the EU nor by the UN," he said.

Cumba presented statistics that indicate Iran-Czech business relations have remained largely unchanged compared to last year, and said this shows that long-time businesspeople are by no means eager to abandon Iran's market.

"However, there remain banking challenges in-between for which solutions must be found," he said.

The ambassador noted that Czech officials have reassured local companies working with Iran that they will be shielded from any potential legal consequences of working with the Islamic Republic in the face of US sanctions. 

Cumba stressed that any company that maintains ties with Iran under the current difficult conditions will be rewarded.

"History has proven that Iran does not forget its friends during difficult times," he said.


Iran US sanctions Czech Republic Business Ties