As the Iranian market opens to suppliers around the globe, speculation abounds as to how great the impact will be. Economists estimate Iran will now be able to unlock approx. USD 100 billion of frozen assets, while USD 30 billion worth of foreign assets became available immediately. When researching an article I recently wrote for Stainless Steel World magazine titled ‘Iran Rising’, I spoke to two experts in the Iranian stainless steel industry about what the future may hold, and how the country’s stainless steel market functioned under the sanctions.
Mr Nader Mehdipour and Mr Saman Lajevardi of Mehdipour Commercial are familiar faces at the Stainless Steel World conference and exhibition. For many years they have attended the event to source stainless steels from producers in countries which were permitted to trade with Iran - to some degree - such as India and China. Today they are casting their net far wider as they seek to satisfy the enormous need for high quality steels in Iran, post-sanctions.
The potential is huge and the country has lost no time in seeking new deals. Just days after the sanctions were lifted, Iran Air announced a deal to buy 114 aircraft from Airbus. Many more mega-deals are expected as Iran emerges from international isolation following years of tough sanctions in industries including steel, banking, shipping and aviation.
“ The Iranian market is very keen to use good quality stainless steels’, explains Mr Mehdipour. “ We want to source the best quality materials from reputable companies with modern facilities, good delivery times, and good after sales service”.
The two gentlemen had plenty of advice to foreign suppliers on how to successfully enter the Iranian market, and key to this is finding a local partner.
While the Iranian market is only opening slowly – there are still significant hurdles such as restrictions on the banking and finance systems, business visas, and restrictions still in place in individual countries – its oil exports to South Korea have already quadrupled. Iran’s aging refineries and petrochemical plants are in desperate need of high quality products, and with the world’s 2nd largest gas reserves and 4th largest oil reserves, the potential is enormous.