By Parvin Telli

Chinese smarter than Westerners

May 10, 2016

TEHRAN - I have been to Iran’s oil and gas shows every year over the past 10 years. I love the event as it draws thousands of large and small companies from all around the world to Tehran to seek investment and trade opportunities. Besides, the exhibition reflects Iran’s political relations with other countries as well.

Oil giants, like Total, Statoil, Shell and others all in a body turned their back on the oil show in the past few years as Iran was constantly bombarded with sanctions led by the U.S and its European allies.  They left the market to the Chinese who took full advantage of the sanctions. The Chinese have had the strongest appearance on the oil shows since 2011 when top oil companies have been absent.

With tireless efforts, finally the Rouhani administration succeeded to broker a landmark nuclear deal with the 5+1 countries in July 2015 to end sanctions on Iran. Since ever, world leaders have taken turn in visiting Iran one after the other, at the head of big delegations, to show their interest in resuming cooperation with the energy-rich country.

Impatient to see the impact of the nuclear deal on oil industry, I hurried to the 21st Iran International Oil, Gas and Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition this week where I was taken by surprise to see those oil companies were absent this year too while their CEOs had been coming and going to the NIOC for negotiations over the last months. 

Touring around, I found Chinese still the most dominant country present in the oil show of 2016 just a few months after sanctions have been lifted.

The oil companies might have their own excuses for not participating in the oil show such as a sharp drop in oil prices, the unstable condition in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and its allies’ propaganda against a rapprochement between Iran and the European Union, and the U.S presidential elections.

But, whatever their reasons might be, working with the Chinese since 2002, I can tell that they have been the sole winner of the sanctions strategy that the U.S. had always been so proud of. 

I think this way; Americans have cut their nose to spite Iran's face, handing over a great market to their Asian rivals whose recent history has shown how quick and smart they are in turning any mayhem to their advantage.