EU business leaders congregate on Iran business forum

VIENNA — Oil, gas, banks and more, worth tens of billions of dollars to the highest bidder. Less than 10 days after signing its nuclear deal, Iran formally threw open its doors Thursday to European Union companies, eager to do business — and dozens of firms answered the call.
Amir Hossein Zamania, an Iranian deputy oil minister, told the “Iran-EU Conference, Trade and Investment” forum that by 2020, his country hoped for foreign partnerships for oil and gas projects that alone were worth $185 billion (nearly 170 billion euros.)
But even more than oil and gas are at stake, with Iranian officials also pitching the mining sector, Iran’s automotive industry, and the financial sector, at what they bill as the first forum of its kind since Tehran and six world powers sealed the deal.
Nearly three times the size of France, Iran holds plenty of economic promise. The country of 80 million people generates a $400-billion economy, boasts the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, the second-biggest stores of natural gas, and has well-established manufacturing and agricultural industries.
European politicians are doing their share to help businesses tap into the Iranian market. As the conference opened, the office of Austrian President Heinz Fischer announced that Fischer would visit Tehran starting Sept. 4 as the first European head of state to do so. German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel returned from Tehran on Tuesday after heading a large business delegation to the Iranian capital. 
American firms, though, will have to wait. U.S. sanctions not related to the nuclear program will still be in place and bar most American companies from doing business with Iran. That gives the Europeans — and Asian companies — a huge advantage.

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