By Mahnaz Abdi

Italians persistently willing to preserve trade with Iran under sanctions

December 29, 2019 - 17:57

TEHRAN- Although the U.S. renewed sanctions against Iranian economy are preventing Iran’s European trade partners to do business with the Islamic Republic, Italian traders and businessmen seem strongly determined to preserve their trade ties with Iran.

They did not leave the Iranian market even in the previous round of the sanctions.

During a number of meetings between Iranian and Italian officials and businesspeople after the imposition of the new round of sanctions, the Italian side has repeatedly expressed its eagerness and determination to preserve and even expand economic and trade cooperation with Iran.

In a meeting with Head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) Gholam-Hossein Shafe’i in Tehran in mid-June, the previous Italian Ambassador to Iran Mauro Conciatori emphasized that the cooperation between Iran and Italy will be maintained at all levels.

Mentioning the growth of trade turnover between Iran and Italy in recent years and the interest of Italian businessmen and entrepreneurs in investing in Iran, he stressed, "We should not worry about the future of Iran-Italy economic relations."

“Despite the U.S. sanctions, the two countries’ trade turnover is currently more than 4 billion euros” Conciatori said.

“We are currently in the process of "contemplating" to plan better future relations, and I'm sure we will have a bigger jump forward after this era”, he added.

According to the data released by European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat, among the European importers of Iranian products in 2018, Italy was the biggest one through purchasing €2.9 billion of goods from Iran.

The country’s imports from Iran in 2018 was 31 percent of the total of European countries’ imports from the Islamic Republic. However, the figure registered an annual decrease of 13 percent in 2018 from its previous €3.36 billion in 2017.

During another meeting participated by the ICCIMA head and the new Italian Ambassador to Iran Giuseppe Perrone in early July, the Italian envoy said the ground is prepared for cooperation between Italian and Iranian companies.

Making the remarks in a meeting of Iran-Italy Joint Chamber of Commerce at the place of ICCIMA, the ambassador said that the activities of the joint chamber in fact show that there is high interest for cooperation between the two countries and based on the available data, Italy is one of the major trade partners of Iran.

Expressing his satisfaction over the eagerness of Iranian and Italian private sectors for cooperation, the envoy said Italian embassy is ready for offering any kind of cooperation in this due.

“We are in a special condition created as the result of sanctions pressure on both sides and under the current condition Iranian and Italian governments and private sectors have a double responsibility to remove the barriers”, he stressed.

According to Chairman of Iran-Italy Joint Chamber of Commerce Ahmad Pourfallah, despite the U.S. sanctions Italian companies are still willing to engage in trade with Iran.

The official says that despite the U.S. pressures, small and medium-sized Italian enterprises have not cut their ties with Iran and Italy still holds the first place among Iran’s European trade partners.

“In the post-sanctions era when the sanctions were removed from Iran’s economy, over 1000 business firms and more than 300 companies from Italy came to Iran,” according to Pourfallah.

He says that Italian companies are still looking to find ways to continue their economic ties with Iran, every month four or five Italian companies visit Iran to hold trade talks.

The official says that the two sides have on the agenda to boost their mutual trade to $13 billion.

Meanwhile, in an interview conducted by ILNA on Saturday, Lida Shahabi, the secretary general of Iran-Italy Joint Chamber of Commerce, said that Italian private sector is pressuring the government to set up a financial channel to boost economic ties between the two countries.

“Italy cannot ignore the attractive market of Iran”, the official further emphasized.

She went on to say, “SMEs are very important in the Italian economy. 90 percent of Italian SMEs are active with less than 10 employees and have no ties with the U.S., so they do not fear the sanctions. These SMEs express high willingness to have trade with Iran as they consider the high potential of Iranian market.”

Therefore, the officials of the two sides should lay the ground for expansion of bilateral cooperation and in fact they should act as a catalyst in this due, she commented.

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