Small German Firms have edge in Iran

A report from the Wall Street Journal says that German companies are likely to be among the first to benefit from expected easing of sanctions on Iran, as many German companies had continued to do business in Iran — legally — in recent years.

The Tehran-based German-Iranian Chamber of Industry and Commerce says that more than 75 German companies had operations in Iran — most of them small, family-owned businesses making specialty products not directly covered by the sanctions, often for the health-care, construction or automotive markets.

As these privately-held firms typically had limited ties to the U.S., whose sanctions on Iran are especially strict, the U.S. often has relatively little leverage over them.

By contrast, many of Germany’s publicly listed multinational companies are listed in the U.S. and have acknowledged they have little choice but to comply with the U.S. restrictions.

We never really left the country,” said Mark Pace, the chief executive and co-owner of dental-equipment company Dentaurum GmbH, which has done business in Iran for decades.

But the report adds that for German companies, the biggest headache is just getting paid, because the sanctions shut Iran out of the global financial-banking system.

Houman Dolatshahi, head of Tehran-based Atieh Bahar Consulting, says that Iranian customers have to transfer cash in small installments through a local foreign-exchange office or use banks from countries such as Turkey that still have some relations with Iran. The United Arab Emirates is another conduit, experts say.

Michael Hack, director for automotive-business development at Hilger u. Kern GmbH, a Mannheim-based supplier of pumps, valves and other industrial equipment that has sold its products in Iran since the 1980s, says Iranians “are hungry for our products. They want to have state-of-the-art technology.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

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