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Business with Tehran Swiss firms in Iran fear US sanctions

Politicians from eight major countries, including the EU, on stage at the EPFL Lausanne in 2015

Switzerland hosted numerous negotiations between Iran and the world powers to reach a deal to curb Tehran's nuclear programme. The group picture with foreign ministers and other representatives of the parties involved was taken in Lausanne after a round of the talks in April 2015. 

(Keystone)

Major Swiss companies are reportedly preparing to withdraw from Iran following United States moves to impose economic sanctions on Tehran and threats of punishing companies which ignore the policy.

Several Swiss newspapers on Sunday reported that Swiss firms in Iran have stopped making new business contracts two weeks ago.

Sharif Nezam-Mafi, chairman of the Swiss-Iranian chamber of commerceexternal link, is quoted as saying several Swiss firms were about to close their subsidiaries in Iran.

He apparently met representatives of major Swiss companies in Tehran recently. However, it is not clear how Swiss companies, - notably from the engineering, pharmaceutical as well as commodity and service sectors – would be affected by the US policy.

Observers say the Swiss business community hopes to be protected in some form by European Union efforts to shield businesses from the impact of US measures, following President Trump’s decision earlier this month to pull out of a nuclear accord with Tehran.

Brussels aims to invoke a “blocking statute” before August, when the first US sanctions are due to take effect.

Visits

A Swiss delegation is expected to travel to Tehran next month to discuss further steps in boosting bilateral ties as agreed in 2016, a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying in the Handelszeitung newspaper quoted last week.

Switzerland has invited the Iranian President Hassan Rohani to a state visit this year but no official date has been announced.

The Handelszeitung says Swiss exports to Iran are worth CHF530 million ($530 million) – a 40% increase over 2015 when Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

swissinfo.ch with SDA-ATS and Handelszeitung; urs


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