'THE Race to Capture the Iranian Market' was the title of the first international trade seminar organised by the Chamber in 2016. It turned out to be a real race after all, with nearly 90 delegates wanting to attend and over 20 having to be placed on a waiting list. Delegates at the Iran-themed event Sir Richard Dalton, president of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce and the last UK ambassador to Iran The importance of the event was clear when it was lodged by Kevin Stewart MSP last week where his motion text stated that “the Parliament commends Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce and PinsentMasons which have organised a seminar entitled The Race to Capture the Iranian Market”. He called on the Scottish and UK governments to provide help and support to companies that are trying to enter this reopened market so we now know the importance of this seminar. The event was also mentioned on Radio 5 and local radio stations. We had three outstanding speakers including Sir Richard Dalton, President of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce, along with his colleague, Dr Cyrus Mehdi-Zadeh and George Booth, a partner at PinsentMasons. Our speakers gave an introduction to Iran, its domestic politics and its economy as well as their views of post-sanction opportunities. Sir Richard sketched the political background behind the delicate nature of regional and international politics as well as projected growth and priorities for the national government. He also outlined prospects in Iran for the UK’s oil and gas industry and why UK suppliers should be planning for business in the country now. He spoke about a key objective for Iran being to improve oil recovery and energy efficiency and invited companies who visit Iran to report any difficulties they encounter to the BICC. At the same time, he emphasised that Iran is politically stable, unlike other countries in the region. Cyrus highlighted that Iran is one of the biggest emerging economies in the world and an attractive place to do business in. In addition to the large oil and gas reserves, the country has a self-reliant economy with geographical proximity to the Middle East, Europe and Asia. George provided a clear overview of the sanctions: who they apply to and the mechanisms available to companies who want to avoid stumbling into sanctioned activities. The lifting of sanctions is currently a two-track process: more stringent rules apply for US businesses than European ones. He mentioned that advice from experienced consultants like PinsentMasons is important for businesses to navigate the sanctions regime while taking advantage of legislation around tax protection, Free Trade Zones and intellectual property. Overall, there is great excitement in Iran at the lifting of sanctions. Over the last few months, we have certified and arranged the legalisation of documents for companies such as Agency Agreements at the Iranian Embassy in readiness for removal of sanctions. Iran’s capability to carry out international financial business is also now on stream as The Central Bank of Iran announced on the January 19 that Iranian banks and their foreign branches “received the opportunity to reconnect to SWIFT international payment system”. Also with the lifting of sanctions, UK Export Finance has taken a decision to open for Iran-related business and is ready to support UK businesses that are keen to export to Iran. There is talk of Western companies rushing to Tehran as President Rouhani promises the “opening of the country’s economy to the world”. However, the emphasis for international companies is on the transfer of technology and long-term partnerships with Iranian companies. The British Iranian Chamber of Commerce is planning a trade mission to Iran, possibly in May 2016. If this is of interest to your company, please get in touch with Seona Shand.