EU eyes Return as Iran’s First Trade Partner

By Maysam Bizær, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief has stated that the 28-member bloc once again wants to become Iran’s biggest trading partner. “We are the ones that used to be Iran’s first partner on the economic fields, on trade, investment, and we want to be back to that,” Federica Mogherini told Tasnim News Agency during her one-day trip to Tehran on April 16.

Indeed, an increasing number of European political and trade delegations have visited Iran following the Jan. 16 removal of nuclear-related sanctions. With Iran determined to rebuild its economy, which has been hampered by sanctions over the past decade, and the EU still reeling from its debt crisis, which began in 2009, the expansion of economic ties is perceived to be beneficial for both sides.

A former senior Iranian diplomat who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said the development of ties has turned into a “necessity for [both] Tehran and the EU.”

He said, “Economic ties with Europe is advantageous for Iran in terms of development, and it carries [fewer] issues than relations with the United States. Europe’s approach to Iran has been, is and will be strategic and long term as far as energy security is concerned, because the continent has no better choice to substitute Iran’s oil and gas resources.”

For Iran, the former Iranian diplomat underscored that “access to European markets and the use of its advanced technology have historic roots and is an economical option.”

Relations between Iran and the European Union date back to 1963. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the relationship was maintained — despite many ups and downs.

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