With Iran at the forefront of the trade world’s interest, GTR speaks to Michael Tockuss, managing member of the board of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce (DIHKEV), about how Germany approaches its relationship with the country.

He explains that German companies always maintained an “economic lifeline” with their Iranian counterparts, even under the sanctions, and that German exports to the country amounted to around €2.5bn in 2014 – up 30% despite current limitations.

One of the things that made it possible for Germany to continue trading with Iran is the structure of its banking system, which is formed of hundreds of small regional banks with no large interests in the US. These were able to keep transferring money to Iran, and despite the sanctions, both German and Iranian corporates got paid without any major hurdle, Tockuss adds.

Though it remains difficult for other European banks, particularly French, Austrian and British ones, to finance trade with Iran, he points out that German banks are not limited to German exporters in their support. “We now have two banks willing to handle LCs from non-EU-listed Iranian banks. They are the first financial institutions in a position to confirm these LCs. But we have to give up this idea of national advantage – there are different advantages in different countries,” Tockuss tells GTR.