Local business reaction to opportunities in Iran

by November 25, 2013

News that the United States, working with several other nations, is easing some trade sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to that country’s nuclear program, offers opportunity for local business journalists as well as those who cover geopolitics.

Marketwatch reports that western companies are licking their chops over the opportunity to resume at least some business with the oil-rich company.  And the publication Deutche WElle reports that — while petroleum obviously is the big draw — other industries also are “itching” to do business with Iran, including the aviation and telecommunications sectors.

Here’s a New York Times primer on the Iran deal, which the U.S. struck along with France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany.

Of course it’s early, and due to the controversial nature of the deal, U.S. companies likely aren’t anxious to broadcast their intentions.  But this is an excellent opportunity to talk with the companies you cover (and industry representatives at trade associations and the like) about existing Middle East trade by firms in your area and any potential opportunities they see in Iran.   Just take a look at the markets; while oil prices sank at the prospect of more competition, stock markets rose worldwide on word of the slightly eased trade restrictions.

This Wall Street Journal piece chronicling (rather critically) one entrepreneur’s creation of the Iran America Chamber of Commerce in anticipation of more trade notes that Iran has lots of raw materials to export and predicts U.S. mining companies doing business there.  Bloomberg says automotive and shipping firms are among “potential winners” and

As this Quartz story reports, increased efforts over the past couple of years to illuminate illegal trade with Iran resulted in the president signing the Iran Threat Reduction and Human Rights Act which among other measures requires a new Securities and Exchange Commission filing by publicly traded companies with business ties to Iran; Quartz said that from just 30 such filings it extrapolated about $540 million in business between Iran and U.S. corporations.  You can search the SEC Edgar database for the documents — dubbed IRANNOTICE by the SEC — or just ask the companies on your beat if they have filed such a notice and what involvement in Iran the notice is predicated on.

Here’s also an NBCNews.com report about a non-profit that aims to “name and shame” companies doing business with Iran; while the adversarial approach is not necessarily pertinent to future, legal trade firms on your beat may do, it might be interesting to see if any local corporations have made the shame list.