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EghtesadOnline: German companies hoped the opening of Iran’s economy following the lifting of international sanctions in January would let them rekindle longstanding commercial ties.

Despite a jump in exports, the results have left Germans disappointed.

Soon after P5+1 last summer signed a deal to lift economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, German business delegations started visiting Iran. Even before sanctions were officially lifted in January, Germans sought local distributors and prepared to resume trade, reports ISNA.

Other European delegations followed but expectations were particularly high that German-Iranian business ties would flourish. Some German firms never fully retreated from Iran, even when sanctions were toughest.

German multinationals including engineering conglomerate Siemens AG have announced plans for large industrial projects in Iran.

In the first six months of this year, German exports to Iran climbed 15%, to €1.13 billion ($1.26 billion), according to the German Federal Statistical Office. Germany’s worldwide exports during the period totaled €603.2 billion.

But many German business and government leaders had predicted the lifting of sanctions on Iran would trigger a bonanza for their industrial firms, which want to sell Iran equipment to help rebuild its aging infrastructure.

Disappointed Germans are now blaming the shortfall primarily on remaining U.S. prohibitions on some transactions with Iran.

“The development lags behind our expectations by far, because of the (U.S.) sanctions still in place,” said Gregor Wolf, director of European and international affairs at the Federation of German Wholesale Foreign Trade and Services. “Companies are afraid of U.S. retaliation,” he added.

Many Western financial institutions are hesitant about engaging with the Iranian market for fear of facing U.S. fines, Wolf said. That reticence complicates payments.

“Even though there is a positive influence from all the events since last year, the international money transfer (system) is not officially open yet,” said Ashkan Pirayesh, an Iranian-German with German firm Richter Lighting Technologies GmbH, who participated in a German business delegation to Iran last September. Pirayesh said Richter is in the process of building a local office in Tehran but was not yet exporting to Iran.

JCPOA Iran sanctions German businesses Iran-Germany trade