Austrian companies ready to trade with Iran within INSTEX: envoy

After the nuclear deal was signed and ratified in 2015, many European businesses jumped to seize the opportunity to engage in commercial activities with Iran. But, restored US sanctions torpedoed their cooperation. Now, with European financial channel in place, they are eager to resume trade.

5 February 2019
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Nearly 500 Austrian companies are prepared to resume trade with Iran in case Europe’s financial channel, INSTEX, becomes fully operational.

“Previously, there were more or less 500 Austrian companies doing business with Iran. Each and everyone is faced with the problem of trapped cash,” Austrian Ambassador to Iran, Stefan Scholz told Iran Chamber Newsroom on the sidelines of the first anniversary of establishment of Iran-Austria Joint Chamber of Commerce on Monday. 

However, the European envoy said he didn’t know for certain how many Austrian companies are still in business with Iran.

“We have 500 Austrian stakeholders who saw huge opportunities following the ratification of the JCPOA,” Scholz added, referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Head of the Austrian diplomatic mission in Iran said those companies signed “a mountain of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs)" after the deal but that “only a handful of concrete contracts so far have been implemented.”

Stefan Scholz, who came to Iran as Austria’s ambassador in July 2017, stressed that those small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) “carried out their feasibility studies and have their business plans in place but it is in the drawer.”

He went on to criticise the “climate of uncertainty created by the US unilateral sanctions” and reiterated that “Austrian firms are waiting for the moment so the sanctions are lifted and they can come back to create a win-win situation both for Iran and Europe.”

Germany, France and the UK announced the creation of Europe’s special purpose vehicle (SPV), called INSTEX, last Thursday on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Bucharest.

A screenshot of joint statement by Germany, France, UK annoucing INSTEX creation  


The three European countries, also known as the E3, are the same signatories to the JCPOA that have shared responsibilities in the financial entity.

Former German banker, Per Fischer, has been reportedly chosen to be INSTEX head. It’s located in France and a senior British diplomat is expected to preside over the Supervisory Board.