DUBAI // Business leaders have been briefed on the end of international sanctions against Iran and its implications for companies in the UAE.
Chris Backemeyer, the principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the US state department, addressed worries the private sector might have after years of mistrust and embargoes following the revolution in 1979 and questions about the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions.
The US has sent teams to countries to explain the US’s approach to trade with Iran.
“We know sanctions are very confusing,” he said in meetings in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“It requires a lot of discussion with the private sector and with foreign governments, so we anticipated needing to do a lot of outreach when it came to the lifting of sanctions.”
On January 16, Iran complied with steps that showed it was not attempting to build a nuclear weapon.
These included removing two-thirds of its uranium centrifuges, disabling its plutonium reactor and measures that would allow better insight into its nuclear programme.
“As a result, we agreed to lift a series of nuclear-related sanctions including those applied to most of the major economic sectors in Iran, in particular to activities by non-US companies in the energy, financial and transportation,” said Mr Backemeyer, who was one of the negotiators for the deal.
As a result of the sanctions, large companies were confronted with a major shift in the global economy.
That has changed.
“There’s a new market they haven’t tapped into,” Mr Backemeyer said.
“Two months into implementing this deal, most of the major companies that take time to evaluate their options and both risks and opportunities, are still trying to figure out what it is they’re going to do.”
Mr Backemeyer said: “One of the concerns you hear is if they [companies] make a mistake and get fined billions of dollars,” he said. “But nobody who’s made a mistake on a one-off transaction was fined billions of dollars.”
Dr Albadr Al Shateri, adjunct professor at the National Defence College, said Iran “will try to husband its newfound power and consolidate it.
“The Arab Gulf states will benefit from new market opportunities, and the demands for consumer goods will skyrocket. It is not [the] destiny for the Arabian Gulf to be a barrier, it could be a bridge, if Iran wants it to be.”