How Iran’s Auto Industry became a Political Football

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

Iranian hard-liners have launched a new attack on the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, this time focusing on the country’s automotive industry.

At an Oct. 25 parliamentary hearing, the Industries and Mines Committee grilled Industry, Mines and Trade Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh over a deal he made last month with the French automaker Renault.

Nematzadeh also came under fire over a controversial decision that critics say led to the import of 400 BMW, Toyota, Volvo and Honda vehicles manufactured in the United States, in contravention of guidelines barring the import of American-made cars.

Citing member of parliament Mohsen Kouhkan, the Young Journalists Club — an affiliate of conservative-controlled Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting — reported that the responses by Nematzadeh and the CEOs of two leading carmakers, Iran Khodro Company (IKCO) and SAIPA — who appeared with Nematzadeh — will now be reviewed by the parliament’s presiding board.

On Oct. 26, the Student News Network (SNN) published a report criticizing the import of US-made cars but did not refer to the hearing. Citing a number of pundits, SNN argued that the import had been unwise, because Washington’s “hostile” policies have for decades been damaging for Iranian consumers.

“Cars that are made in the US, irrespective of whether their brand origin is American, European or Asian, create value added for American companies and boost employment in the US. We should not use Iranian money to create jobs for Americans,” Hassan Karimi Sanjari, an automotive expert, said in an interview with SNN.

Neither media outlets nor parliament members revealed what Nematzadeh had said in response to the concerns raised about the import of the US-made cars. A day before the hearing, Donya-e Eqtesad, Iran’s leading economic daily, had reported that authorities had banned the import of European cars produced in the United States. The Industry, Mines and Trade Ministry, however, has not yet officially announced such a ban.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply