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June 2017, No. 84


Trade & Business

 
Iran, Sweden Initial Five Documents of Cooperation

Iran has had relatively good relations with neutral Sweden which has over the years been often critical of the foreign policy of the United States.


Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven visited Tehran at the head of a high-ranking political and economic delegation (Feb. 11-13).

Lofven was officially welcomed by the Iranian Chief Executive Hassan Rouhani who said the European Union should buttress the bloc’s banking relations with Iran so as to optimize the opportunities provided by the 2015 nuclear deal.

Rouhani made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Swedish prime minister. He also said the country favored better banking transactions with Sweden.

The comments came as fear of potential US punitive measures continue to dissuade European banks and firms from fully availing themselves of the chances created by the agreement.

The nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, namely the US, the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany. It lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, offering big opportunities for foreign businesses. The previous American administration had “verbally” encouraged the European institutions to restore their monetary ties with Iran, but Washington’s far-reaching clout over the international economy has largely prohibited such prospect.

Rouhani also hailed Sweden’s “moderate” approach vis-à-vis Iran, which he said was maintained even when Tehran was under sanctions over its nuclear work.

The visit by the Swedish premier also featured the two sides signing five documents of cooperation. The documents enabled cooperation in the areas of innovation and technology, higher education and research, road construction, communication and information technology, and family and women’s affairs.

Rouhani said, “The visit by the Swedish prime minister signifies the two countries’ serious will to develop bilateral ties and consult toward easing tensions in the region as well as international peace and stability.” The countries are determined to have the level of bilateral ties restored to the pre-sanctions era, he said.

Löfven, for his part, said he was “very proud” of the historic nature of his visit. He added that the ranking of his accompanying delegation indicated the importance his country attached to Iran and to relations with the Islamic Republic. He also announced that his visit was to be followed by several more high-level trips by Swedish officials to Iran. 

The delegation included CEOs of companies like Scania, Ericsson, Elekta, Volvo, ABB, Sensys Gatso Group, Swedish Energy Agency, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and Swedish Post and Telecom Authority, along with Danske Bank and EKN (Swedish export credit agency.)

Swedish Credit Lines for Iran

After a meeting with the Swedish Minister for European Affairs and Trade Anne Linde, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi announced that two Swedish banks will allocate credit lines to Iranian companies in the field of communications and information technology.

“Our trade volume witnessed a leap last year to reach €250 million and this process will continue in the technology development sector,” Vaezi said.

Back in 2003 and 2004, Iran was the 21st and 28th exporter to Sweden respectively, though in 2005, it was not among the top 30 exporters to this Scandinavian country.

During the years when sanctions blocked Iran’s foreign relations, trade with Sweden shrunk to 25% of what it used to be, dropping from $1.1 billion to $282 million.

Nematzadeh, Linde Call for Enhanced Trade Ties

Also meeting with Linde was Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh who urged Swedish companies to share their markets with Iran.

He also said doors were open for any cooperation with Sweden and there are no obstacles from the Iranian side for increased cooperation. “We welcome Swedish investors in the Iranian market and want the private sectors of the two countries cooperate with each other.”

Leader Says Sweden Has Good Name among Iranians

Iran’s Supreme Leader said the United States and Western powers are regarded with suspicion in the Middle East because of their interference, but that Sweden has a good name among Iranians and is seen as a reputable economic partner.

Iran has had relatively good relations with neutral Sweden which has over the years been often critical of the foreign policy of the United States.

“America and many European powers have played a role in causing traumatic events in Syria and Iraq, and the people of the region are aware of this interference and are rightly skeptical,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said at a meeting with Lofven.

“Due to its long relationship with Iran, Sweden is a country with a good reputation in the eyes of our people, and the optimism of nations towards each other will be fertile ground for developing cooperation,” Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying.

The Leader said many agreements Iran had signed with foreign countries had not been realized, expressing hope that would not also be the case with Sweden.

“We know you to be a man of action and hope you will act in a way so the accords do not just stay on paper,” Ayatollah Khamenei told the Swedish prime minister.

Lofven said the talks addressed “economic relations and important regional problems, and we will try to implement the agreements”.

 

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  June 2017
No. 84