German firms are seeking legal clarity in the wake of this week’s nuclear deal with Iran to make sure they do not incur steep U.S. penalties for trading with its regime.
The big question for many remains: Does the historic pact to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions effectively give western businesses the all-clear to invest again with the Iranians? Or will German businesses still face prosecution for trading with a terrorist regime?
The German business community broadly welcomed the deal announced Tuesday – which will see Iran ditch almost all of its weapons-grade nuclear material in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions. “German companies are eager to play their part in modernizing the country and integrate it into the global community,” said Ulrich Grillo, head of the BDI Federation of German Industries.
He forecast German exports to Iran could leap to more than €10 billion ($11 billion) in the medium term from €2.4 billion last year, and said sectors particularly likely to benefit would include cars, chemicals, healthcare and renewable energy.
“The modernization of the oil industry in particular opens big opportunities for German machinery and equipment makers,” Mr. Grillo said.
Much depends on when and how sanctions are dropped – trade is not expected to really develop until 2016. If sanctions are phased out quickly, conservative estimates say bilateral trade could grow to €6 billion or €7 billion in 2016.