TEHRAN (Iran News) – British Ambassador to Tehran Simon Shercliff in meeting with Head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce Masoud Khansari announced readiness of the British companies for economic cooperation with their Iranian counterparts.
Shercliff five months ago arrived in Tehran to begin its work as the British Ambassador and in its first meeting with the head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce reviewed opportunities for cooperation especially between the private sectors of the two countries and in the meeting both sides emphasized removing the hurdles in way of banking exchanges as the basic infrastructure for developing economic ties.
In the meeting, Khansari referred to the historic relations of Tehran and London and said after the signing of the JPOA, some contracts worth of approximately $10b were signed between the two countries but after the U.S. exit from the JCPOA and reimposition of the U.S. sanctions by President Donald Trump, they were halted.
He went on to say that the level of economic relations between Tehran and London can improve especially in the post-Brexit era, adding that due to the exit of the UK from EU, Iran and UK can trade in their national currencies but the most important issue which has turned into a major hurdle in way of developing bilateral economic relation is the banking issue and this problem has made both countries have indirect trade exchanges. He added that they should work to resolve this problem.
Khansari reiterated that Tehran accounts for almost 50% of national economic decisions and activities and announced readiness of the chamber for introducing reputable and creditable Iranian companies in different fields for cooperation with the British companies, adding that of course they should first resolve banking issues through trust building.
He then pointed to good trend of COVID vaccination of the population in Iran which makes easy dispatch of trade delegations between the two states, noting that by the way both countries can facilitate the connection between their economic activists by using virtual space.
Then Shercliff, for his part, said there are abundance of opportunities and motivations for economic cooperation with Iran and confirmed Khansari’s remarks that in the post-Brexit era, the possibility for improving trade ties between Tehran and London is more than ever.
He went on to say that the first step for increasing trade exchanges is to find a solution for banking transactions and said one of the problems in way of financial transfers is that most British banks are international and sanctions have created obstacles in way of their cooperation with Iran. He reiterated but despite all of these problems, British companies are interested in cooperating with Iranian companies in the fields of food industries, agro, hygiene and health and this interest has increased especially in the recent year.
Then Director of Trade and Investment of British Embassy Mr. Michael Bradley, for his part, referred to this point that the British Government has continued its support from British companies for trade with Iran since 2018 when the U.S. left the JCPOA. He noted that during this period, the trade events have been held for continuing this connection and support of trade with Iran. He went on to say that the pandemic led to the slump in the British trade with Iran and other countries, adding that despite all problems, the annual trade between Iran and UK is between 200 to 300 million dollars per year and food products, medicines and agro products are the major items which are traded between the two countries. He reiterated of course with adding the indirect trade via the third party countries like the UAE and Turkey, the trade volume of Iran and UK is definitely surpasses the mentioned figure.
Bradley then revealed the interests of the British companies for cooperation with Iranian companies, adding that of course this eagerness is seen mostly among the small and medium-sized companies whose interests do not face threats of the U.S. punishment. He then pointed to a webinar which was held a couple of months ago for making British economic activists familiar with Iranian companies and their activities, and emphasized that the economic relations of the two countries can return to the 2016 level considering the existing potentials.
Then Iran’s Foreign Ministry official Mohammad Taheri who was present in this meeting said that before the reimposition of sanctions, there was a constructive relation between Tehran and London and their trade volume was around $566m in 2017 and the economic cooperation of the two countries was predicted to reach $10b.
He added that eight projects were to be carried out with cooperation of the British in Iran but the return of sanctions made the British halt cooperation and they left the projects.