By Mahdokht Pazoki:

Italian companies interested in Iran’s market, fearing US sanctions

Tehran, Aug 5, IRNA – Despite the assurance given by European officials on supporting firms doing business with Iran in face of the US sanctions, Italian business owners have mixed views on the future of trade with Tehran while expressing interest in staying in the market.

These days, US officials are busy with adopting measures, adding sanctions, and inventing ways to tighten the noose on Iran’s economy to force Tehran to come to the table of renegotiation for a “real deal”.

The idea of a new deal was the US President Donald Trump’s pretext to withdraw unilaterally from an agreement that his predecessor Barak Obama had signed with Iran in 2015.

Washington has also re-imposed the economic sanctions the first set of which will take effect on August 6. The United States has told allies to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November.

The threats of Trump administrations came at a time when multinational companies were rushing to invest in Iran.

Italian firms and investors, among other European enterprises, have expressed their interest in Iran's market.

Italy and Iran in January signed an agreement worth up to 5 billion euros ($6.02 billion) for investments in Iran, a figure that is an indication of the Iranian market for Italian investors.

Amid the anti-Iran measures by Washington, the Italian companies are still hopeful that they can benefit the potentials of Iran's economy.

Vernocchi Marino, General Manager of SB Lift Motor, who was participating in a recent exhibition of elevators and related industries in Tehran, expressed satisfaction of doing business with Iran.

'The reality we face in Iran is very positive and I am sanguine on the future of trading with the country,' he said.

Iran is a part of our market, as we sell our products all over the world, he said expressing excitement on what he had experienced in the country as a businessman.

The Italian manager also saw Iran as a country that welcomes trade boost with foreign firms, describing it as a paradise for traders.

Besides business, Marino noted that Italians consider Iran as the cradle of civilization that currently is finding its ways to Europe.

Despite the sanctions that US have threatened to impose on Iran, some Italian business persons, unaffected by the prospect of such measures, have plans for their future activities in Iran.

Marco Turino, an engineer representing Fantini, said despite the measures American officials have adopted to deter foreign firms from developing their business with Iran, his company would continue its trade with the country and was planning to participate in the next editions of the exhibition. Fantini has been taking part in Liftex since 2013.

The Italian engineer also affirmed that the company is quite confident the trade relations with Iran will continue to grow.

He admits, however, that currently there are some challenges facing the foreign countries, particularly in terms of payments and banking issues.

Turino suggested boosting private companies and SMEs’ activities to develop the business relations between Iran and Italy; an Idea that has been tapped into by European Union officials.

Currently a package of practical measures is being prepared which will take effect in August; Italian media have quoted a Member of Parliament as saying.

The EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini is determined to mitigate possible effects of the US sanctions on the European companies that have invested in Iran, Isabela De Monte said.

Mogherini is also seeking to embark on measures to maintain the good economic and trade relations between EU and Iran established following the nuclear deal, said the Italian lawmaker, referring to the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the major world powers in 2015, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Italy’s Ambassador to Tehran, Mauro Conciatori, earlier last month, told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that Iran and Italy in current situation should try to make new arrangements to save their 5-billion-dollar strong economic cooperation.

“We are working on the arrangements,” the Italian envoy said, adding that despite concerns over big projects and oil cooperation,Italian small and medium size enterprises (SME) can easily continue their business with Iran.

Italian government is giving a strong push towards maintaining economic relations and partnership with Iran in face of the US pressures, he said.

“It is up to the private sector to make their decision, but on the level of governments we are trying to protect our bilateral relations, and to encourage the private sector to keep doing business with Iran” the ambassador said.

Despite the vows of European officials, the Italian private sector is still concerned over the future of trade relations with their Iranian partners. Honorary President of Italy’s Marble Association, Flavio Marabelli, said Italian companies have been cooperating with Iranian business persons in forms of deals and holding joint exhibitions for the past years. He noted, however, that the companies are facing numerous problems in terms of banking procedures.

He also expressed concerns over the US sanctions. “Under current conditions, we cannot skirt the sanctions,” he said while adding that “Iran should keep its communication channels with European companies open.”

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