The Italian Ministry of Economic Development, Sace and Mediobanca have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Iran and Iran’s Central Bank – the latest in a series of moves to strengthen trade ties ahead of the lifting of Iranian sanctions.

According to the MoU, the parties will collaborate to evaluate short and medium to long-term projects of mutual interest involving Italian export and investments and to identify local financial institutions that could benefit from credit lines provided by Mediobanca and guaranteed by Sace and Iran’s Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Sace estimates that the end of the sanctions regime could benefit Italy’s exports by almost €3bn between 2015-18, particularly in the industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, and transport sectors. The ECA already signed a technical co-operation agreement with the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EGFI) last May, to help increase the international competitiveness of Iranian companies.

According Iranian media reports, the country’s oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh invited Italian companies to manufacture necessary equipment for the oil industry and to co-operate with Iranian companies in this field, while Italian oil company Eni is due to participate in the construction of petrochemical units.

Iran has unfinished business with Western oil companies as a consequence of the sanction’s imposition. Eni claims the country owes it US$800mn for a plant in the Darquain oil field in Khuzestan, which will be paid with oil barrels once the deal is approved by the supreme economic council. Meanwhile, the Royal Dutch Shell company owes Iran US$2bn for oil supplies that were not paid due to the 2006 UN sanctions.

Both oil companies, as well as Total and British Petroleum (BP), have indicated interest in the country’s energy projects which, according to Iran’s energy officials, are worth US$185bn of foreign investment.

Western companies however want more advantageous contracts from Tehran. Iran’s state-controlled news agency IRNA reports that Zanganeh will present new oil contracts – negotiated with oil majors for months – in London in December, which will be signed within the framework of IPC (Integrated Petroleum Contract). The new terms would replace the buyback deals, and would allow instead the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to set up joint ventures for crude oil and gas production with international companies, which will be compensated with a share of the output.