Iran News ...


11/28/08

German Firms Seeking to Boost Trade Ties with Iran

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- The German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce held a workshop on Thursday to improve business ties between German firms and the Islamic Republic.

During the workshop, held in Hamburg under the title "Iran sanctions and practical implications for German firms," top-level representatives of the German-Iranian commerce sector advised mid-size German companies about expanding trade with Iran.

In its invitation letter, the Hamburg-based German-Iranian chamber of commerce wrote, "Our chamber wishes to support you, even in difficult times, in market development in Iran.

"We would be pleased if you would come to us with questions on the market situation, search for representatives, transaction processing and permit issues in Germany and Iran, and we can thus contribute to the success of your business in Iran."

Asked whether the workshop contradicted the position of the Merkel administration, Michael Tockuss, the director of the GICC, said. "Not at all".

A colleague of Sissi Gerstenkorn, from the company Euler Hermes, who delivered a speech at the workshop, titled "Export credit guarantee coverage", said that Euler Hermes represented the German government in allocating credit guarantees for trade.

Dr. Thomas Scheuermann, vice president of the GICC and member of the German-Iranian lawyers' association, delivered a talk on "Civil legal aspects for German firms in Iranian trade."

Iran, specially its oil and gas sector, is a lucrative market for all western firms, and European companies do not want to discard the opportunity for earning billions of dollars.

Such moves as the GICC workshop prove the inefficiency of the United States' pressure on the EU to isolate Tehran over its peaceful nuclear program.

Washington accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while it has never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate its allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West's calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

Iranian officials have dismissed US sanctions as inefficient, saying that they are finding Asian partners instead. Several Chinese and other Asian firms are negotiating or signing up to oil and gas deals.

Following US pressures on companies to stop business with Tehran, many western companies decided to do a balancing act. They tried to maintain their presence in Iran, which is rich in oil and gas, but not getting into big deals that could endanger their interests in the US.

Yet, after oil giants in the West witnessed that their absence in big deals has provided Chinese, Indian and Russian companies with excellent opportunities to signing up to an increasing number of energy projects and earn billions of dollars, many western firms are slowly losing reluctance to invest or expand work in Iran.

Some European countries have also recently voiced interest in investment in Iran's energy sector after a gas deal was signed between Iran and Switzerland regardless of US sanctions.

The National Iranian Gas Export Company and Switzerland's Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg signed a 25-year deal in March for the delivery of 5.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

The biggest recent deal, worth 100m ($147m, 80m), was signed by Steiner Prematechnik Gastec, the German engineering company, this month to build equipment for three gas conversion plants in Iran. This is at a time when France's Total, Royal/Dutch Shell and Norway's Statoil have put on hold their shares in multi-billion dollar contracts.

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West's illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

Tehran has dismissed West's demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians' national resolve to continue the path.

The UN sanctions address individuals and companies involved in nuclear- and arms-related activities without banning daily trade and non-nuclear investment.

But the US has imposed unilateral restrictions in particular on financial transactions and big investments.

Political observers believe that the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran's nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington's push for additional UN penalties contradicts the report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran's programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head - one in November and the other one in February - which praised Iran's truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

... Payvand News - 11/28/08 ... --



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