These Billions in Deals Can Help Iran Counter Trump

It hasn’t been the investment bonanza Iran hoped for, but the billions of dollars unlocked by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers might help cushion the impact of any future U.S. assault on the accord. Bloomberg's Alaa Shahine reports on 'Bloomberg Markets: Middle East.' (Source: Bloomberg)

It hasn’t been the investment bonanza Iran hoped for, but the billions of dollars unlocked by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers might help cushion the impact of any future U.S. assault on the accord.

The mood has shifted since this time last year, when following the January 2016 lifting of sanctions trade delegations crammed Tehran’s hotels as investor interest peaked. Now, with President Donald Trump adding new sanctions and expressing frustration that his administration continues to find the Islamic Republic in compliance with the accord, the talk is of whether it can survive. Of critical importance will be the support flowing from other parties -- China, Russia, France, Germany and the U.K. -- whose companies have put up much of the money invested in Iran so far.

Read More: Will the U.S. Blow Up the Iran Nuclear Deal?: QuickTake Q&A.

“There is pressure coming from the business establishment in these countries to maintain access to the Iranian market,” said Sanam Vakil, an associate fellow at Chatham House’s Middle East & North Africa Program in London. At the same time, most of their governments “recognize that marginalizing and isolating Iran is not in their interest,” she said.

There’s a lot at stake: Iran says it wants to sign oil and gas contracts worth as much as $60 billion in the Iranian year that ends in March 2018. Here are some of the agreements -- final or preliminary -- reached in the last 18 months.

Energy and power

  • Total SA along with China National Petroleum Corp. signed a 20-year agreement valued at $5 billion to develop phase 11 of the South Pars offshore gas field.  
  • South Korea’s SK E&C signed a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) preliminary agreement with National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Co. to upgrade the Tabriz refinery in northwest Iran.
  • Turkey’s Unit International signed a $4.2 billion deal with Iran’s energy ministry to build 7 natural gas plants throughout Iran
  • China’s Sinopec reached a $1.2 billion agreement with National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Co. on development of phase 1 of the Abadan refinery in southwest province of Khuzestan.
  • Royal Dutch Shell Plc signed an agreement to assess three of Iran’s largest oil and gas fields, including the Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields near the Iraqi border.

Transportation

  • Renault SA signed a 660 million euro pact with the Industrial Development & Renovation Organization of Iran and Parto Negin Naseh Co., an importer of Renault products, to set up a joint venture and boost car manufacturing in Iran.
  • Volkswagen AG reached an agreement with Iran’s Mammut Khodro to sell two car models, marking the company’s return to the Iranian market after more than a decade.
  • PSA Peugeot Citroen and long-time partner Iran Khodro signed a joint venture contract to invest 400 million euros to upgrade their auto plant. The French company also signed an agreement with local manufacturer Saipa to invest 300 million euros in five years in manufacturing and R&D.
  • Boeing Co. and Iran’s Aseman airline signed a $3 billion agreement for 30 737 Max jets; the U.S. company also struck a $16.6 billion deal with national carrier Iran Air for 80 aircraft.
  • ATR sealed a deal with Iran Air worth $536 million for 20 ATR turboprop aircraft.
  • Airbus Group SE signed off on a contract with Iran for 100 jetliners worth about $19 billion at list prices.
  • Alstom SA, the Industrial Development & Renovation Organization of Iran and Iranian Rail Industries Development reached a preliminary agreement to build train and metro cars.
  • Russia’s Transmashholding signed a $3 billion with the Industrial Development & Renovation Organization of Iran to jointly produce railway carriages.
  • Siemens AG signed a contract worth at least 1.5 billion euros to build rail coaches and upgrade tracks.

Industries

  • China’s CREC reached an agreement valued at $2 billion with Iran Aluminium Co., known as Iralco, to start operations at a unit in Markazi province, south of Tehran.

Telecommunication

  • MTN Group Ltd. agreed to buy a 49 percent stake in an Iranian state-owned internet provider for 540 million rand ($40 million), it’s also seeking to invest $750 million in an Iranian fiber-optic project.
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