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January 28, 2016: Following the lifting of some economic sanctions, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani says his government is ready to welcome investment, technology and create a new export market: "Under the new conditions, we want to export 30 percent of what we produce” – adding his country is the most secure and stable in the Middle East.

With US$100 billion in cash now unlocked and a re-connection to the international SWIFT banking network, Iran seems poised to give Airbus a major aircraft order. No doubt other manufacturers soon will be recipients of the country’s desire to resume trade with Europe and the U.S.

However it’s worth remembering that the recent lifting of U.S. sanctions comes with a significant caveat. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, sanctions will continue to be applied against Iran in relation to its “support for terrorism, support for persons involved in human rights abuses in Syria or for the government of Syria, support for persons threatening the peace, security, or stability of Yemen, human rights abuses, and [its] ballistic missile program”.

PwC suggests 74 percent of the 1,400 global CEOs it surveyed recently are worrying about geopolitical uncertainty this year and are looking “to play thing safe”.

So the current ideological conflict between the Sunni rulers of Saudi Arabia and the Shia theocracy in Iran suggests that while trade to and from Iran might be quasi-normalized sometime soon, nobody appears to be under any illusion that it will lead to peace.

- Simon Keeble is the editor of Freightweek



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