U.S. car manufacturers want to enter Iranian market

SHAFAQNA – Quick on the trail of their European counterparts, U.S. car manufacturers have voiced their readiness to enter the Islamic Republic’s market should sanctions on Iran be lifted.

Mohammad Reza Najafi-Manesh, member of Iran’s Car Manufacturing Policy-making Council said U.S. car-makers are waiting for a lifting of sanctions against Iran in order to win a toehold in Iran’s burgeoning market, Press TV reported.

He noted that the Americans have expressed willingness to invest in Iran’s market. They are waiting for the Lausanne framework agreement to become permanent to do so.

American car-makers have been absent from Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution and the U.S. Embassy takeover. The U.S. law blocks American car-makers from entering the Iranian market.

Najafi-Manesh said talks have already been held, without giving more details.

Meanwhile Sasan Qorbani, secretary-general of the Iranian Auto Parts Manufacturers Association said American car-makers, have sent messages to their Iranian counterparts through middlemen and have called for investment in Iran’s auto market, ISNA reported.

He described Iran’s car market as “very attractive” for foreign automakers and said American companies have already started to conduct market researches in view of entering Iran’s market once all anti-Iran sanctions are removed in the wake of a final nuclear deal between Iran and the P 5+1 countries.

Western automakers prepare to re-enter the Middle East’s highest-volume car market after the removal of international sanctions. Earlier, European car-makers voiced an interest to resume their activity in the Islamic Republic’s auto industry.

In March, France’s giant car-maker PSA Peugeot-Citroen reached an agreement with Iran’s leading car-maker, Iran Khodro – IKCO for the establishing of a joint car manufacturing factory in Iran.

Europe’s second largest automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroen stopped in 2012 its trade with Iran after the enforcement of U.S-led financial sanctions against Iran, which was one of the biggest markets of the company.

The automobile industry is seen as Iran’s biggest non-oil sector. It accounts for nearly 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Latest data show that Iran ranks 18th on the list of the world’s top auto manufacturers.

The 2014 Production Statistics by the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) indicate that Iran’s auto production increased by 46.7 percent in the 12-month period.

Iran Khodro and Saipa companies account for more than 90 percent of the total of Iran imported 102,000 cars during the last Persian calendar year (ended March 20, 2015,) showing a 31 percent year-on-year increase.

Iran’s auto industry has suffered greatly from sanctions, with production plummeting and workers being laid off because of the ensuing economic slowdown.

Amid a series of U.S. sanctions, penalties against the auto industry and the banking sector were most felt by Iran.

The mentioned sanctions were lifted after an interim nuclear agreement was reached in Geneva between Iran and world powers with a final accord still on the horizon, raising the prospect of better times for the industry.

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