In the latest developments following the lifting of nuclear sanctions against Iran, the country has settled its debt to German export credit agency (ECA) Hermes and negotiated increased trade with Turkey.
Germany announced this week that its export credit agency (ECA), Hermes, would soon reopen business for Iran following the country’s repayment of €500mn of debt.
According to Germany’s Federal Statistics Office, German exports to Iran went up 7% year on year in the first quarter of 2016, to €500mn. Compared to the overall 0.7% growth in the country’s global exports, this figure shows the importance of the Iranian market for German corporates.
Yet their appetite has been dampened by large European banks’ reluctance to finance Iranian trade, and there is hope that Hermes’s renewed support will help move the dial.
Meanwhile, Turkey is hoping to triple its trade with Iran to no less than US$30bn “as soon as possible” according to Turkish customs and trade minister Bulent Tufenkci, speaking to Reuters last week.
Seltem Iyigün, Turkey economist at Coface, tells GTR: “Iran represents very important opportunities for the Turkish economy, especially for sectors such as textile, food, automotive components, chemicals, metals and machinery. In the first four months of 2016, Turkish exports to Iran rose by around 49% from a year earlier.
“The importance of the Iranian market rises especially in the current period when Turkish exporters and the tourism sector are suffering from geopolitical tensions in Iraq, Syria and Russia. In this sense, in the short term, the Iranian market can help exporters to compensate the loss of market shares in these countries. A lot of SMEs and big Turkish companies are doing market research and making business visits to Iran in order to exploit opportunities this market offers.”
She adds that most Turkish banks are not yet active in Iran, adopting the same wait-and-see attitude observed in the rest of Europe. However, it has been reported several times that Halkbank continued to process transactions with Iran, even under the nuclear sanctions.
Iran’s general director for foreign economic relations, Sadegh Akbari, even told reporters at the Turkey-Iran International Trade and Investment Arena on June 1 that Halkbank would be the bank processing the €6bn of oil payments Indian firms owe their Iranian counterparts. He added that €600mn had already been transferred to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) via the bank, under the instructions of the Central Bank of Iran.
In other Iranian news, Royal Dutch Shell is reported to have resumed oil import from the country, with Bloomberg referring to shipping data to confirm the booking of a tanker by the oil giant to carry one million barrels of Iranian crude to Europe on July 1. Shell is therefore the second oil major to resume business with Iran, after Total signed an agreement to purchase up to 200,000 barrels of Iranian crude a day during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to France back in February.