Fine fears

Banks Slow German Return to Iran

Iran's manufacturing industry is especially appealing to German companies.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Despite the lifting of sanctions, many obstacles remain for German businesses wanting to do business in Iran.

  • Facts


    • A deal was agreed this week that will see economic sanctions on Iran eased in exchange for it scaling back its nuclear activities.
    • German companies hope to increase exports to Iran from €2.4 billion ($2.6 billion) last year to €10 billion by 2019.
    • Having been stung by fines, European banks are in no hurry to finance them until strict U.S. trade regulations are also lifted.
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German industry has high hopes for new business in the wake of the Iran deal this week. With economic sanctions being eased in return for the removal of weapons-grade nuclear material, manufacturers of machinery, cars and chemicals are all hoping for orders from the crippled Islamic republic. The problem is that the financial sector, which is supposed to finance foreign trade, is far less euphoric.

The German banking association, known as the BdB, has welcomed the agreement, but its general manager, Michael Kemmer, notes that economic sanctions are unlikely to be relaxed until “the beginning of next year at the earliest.”

He adds that the same unconfirmed timeline will apply to restrictions on financial services, and told Handelsblatt: “Banks will then be ready to finance the economy, in line with political developments.”

The banks themselves are even more cautious. Deutsche Bank emphasized that it will continue to comply with all sanctions against Iran, although it says that it is monitoring the implementation of the nuclear deal and that it “may reconsider its position if sanctions are lifted in areas that are relevant to the bank.”

The only information that could be coaxed from the state-owned KfW IPEX-Bank was that it “is observing the situation very closely.” DZ Bank, a cooperative, is taking the same approach. Commerzbank, like the major U.K. banks Standard Chartered and HSBC, plus the French bank BNP Paribas, have refused to comment on the issue.

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