“Davos of Iran” to Convene as Post-Sanctions Trade and Investment Reaches Critical Juncture

“Davos of Iran” to Convene as Post-Sanctions Trade and Investment Reaches Critical Juncture

European business leaders and policymakers will convene with their Iranian counterparts at a critical time, setting an agenda for trade and investment as the Trump administration signals its skepticism regarding the Iran nuclear deal.                                                                                 

The fourth edition of the Europe-Iran Forum, which has been called the “Davos of Iran,” returns to the historic Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich on October 3-4, 2017. The summit is set to be the most significant gathering of Iranian and European business leaders and policymakers to date, demonstrating a clear commitment to the economic dividends of the nuclear deal.

“Multinational companies have now spent two years studying the feasibility of new investments in Iran, and pressure is increasing for long-expected deals to reach the contract stage. Encouragingly, with a number of major agreements signed in the last few months, it seems the commitment to the Iranian market remains strong,” said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of the Europe-Iran Forum.

“The aim now is for European leaders to work with Iranian partners to find a sustainable agenda for trade and investment with a view to the long term.”

Helga Schmid, Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and a key figure in the negotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will give a keynote speech outlining the European commitment to the nuclear deal and the provision of sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for its verified compliance. This is the first time that the Secretary General, one of Europe’s top diplomats, will address an audience of business leaders on these matters.

The European push for “business diplomacy” will be bolstered by the participation of an unprecedented multilateral gathering of senior diplomats, including the Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, and Polish ambassadors to Iran.

There will also be strong representation from the Rouhani administration, which is determined to push forward its agenda of economic engagement following a resounding election victory in May and the President’s inauguration on August 5.

Mohammad Khazaee, the Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance and President of the Organization for Investment, Economic, and Technical Assistance of Iran (OIETAI), will outline the administration’s agenda for monetary policy and regulatory reform. Iran is seeking to make more progress on banking challenges, particularly by improving its compliance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body that establishes regulatory standards for international finance.

Deputy Minister of Industry, Mine, and Trade Mehdi Karbasian, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Seyyed Kazem Sajjadpour, will also speak at the 4th Europe-Iran Forum.

Senior business leaders from Iran speaking at the conference include Farzaneh Sharafbafi, the newly appointed CEO of Iran Air and the first woman to lead Iran’s national airline. This will be Dr. Sharafbafi’s first major international address in her new role. Iran Air’s pending deals with Airbus and Boeing, valued at USD $10 billion and USD $17 billion respectively, count among Iran’s most important post-sanctions contracts.

Dr. Mohammad Saeedi, Chairman and Managing Director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), will outline how Iran seeks to modernize its merchant fleet and port infrastructure to keep up with rising trade flows. Iran’s non-oil trade hit nearly USD $30 billion in the four months since the beginning of the Iranian calendar year (March 2017). 

Masoud Khansari, President of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture, will detail the ways in which Iran’s private sector has been empowered to drive economic growth across sectors, including those traditionally dominated by state enterprise.

A wide range of panels will discuss how Iran is succeeding in attracting foreign investment through new partnership models. Of particular importance will be a panel on transportation and logistics, with senior representatives from Alstom, Siemens, and Port of Antwerp discussing the holistic regeneration of Iran’s transport infrastructure and the concrete achievements of their companies in the market, in addition to ongoing efforts to mitigate risk and ensure adherence with global compliance standards.

Moreover, several of Iran’s key private equity and venture capital executives will explore how foreign capital has begun to enter Iran, supporting growth within the vibrant private sector.

Omid Gholamifar, CEO of Serkland Invest, a Swedish investment company focused on Iran, and a participant on the private equity panel, notes, “Over the last two years, foreign investors have deployed venture capital in Iran, supporting young digital businesses. Those investments have done well, spurring entrepreneurship and bringing new services to the market. Now investors are beginning to look at more mature companies and these growth capital investments could turbocharge Iran's private sector." 

The Forum will also mark the release of a new study measuring business confidence in Iran, commissioned in partnership with noted research firm IranPoll. The first-of-its-kind survey examines attitudes among Iranians towards domestic and multinational businesses, as well as the extent to which Iranians believe that business leaders will deliver on important commitments such as job creation, environmental protection, and innovation.

The 4th Europe-Iran Forum is organized by Bourse & Bazaar in partnership with Adam Smith Conferences. It is supported by KPMG, Dentons, and Manoir Industries among other world-class sponsors.



Photo Credit: Europe-Iran Forum

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