Intervista di Alì Basereh, Direttore di Iran Import-Export E-Magazine (http://import-export.ir) a Stefano Vernole (CeSEM).

  1. The sanctions against Iran. What difficulties have caused to foreign trade?
  1. The previous and current USA sanctions against Iran have created problems in the relationship between this country and the West, but they have also created problems for third countries. One of the difficulties created by them is that the European companies discovered to have relations with Iran are then sanctioned by the USA, preventing them from overseas trading. It must be kept in mind that the commercial interchange of many european countries like Italy, France, Germany … is still decidedly larger with the United States than Iran, so once they find themselves making a choice they are forced to safeguard the American market. Another notable difficulty for those who may try to trade with Iran by Dubai, Turkey … it is the blocking of the swift system, which is under the control of the United States, so it becomes impossible to make a bank transfer to and from Iran.
  1. The Nuclear Agreement. What commercial opportunities did create for Italy?

2)The Agreement reached on the Iranian nuclear issue had allowed Italy to recover at least a part of the trade that it had before the adoption of the sanctions. In 2016 Rome and Teheran had reached agreements for a possible budget of 20 billion euros, now with the new sanctions desired by Trump we risk to lose all. Italy is the main European partner of Iran, in 2017 it was in first place for overall exchanges, more than 5 billion euros. In 2018 Italian exports to Iran amounted to 1.7 billion euros, better than Rome only Germany with almost 4 bilion euros. The bulk of Italian sales in Iran concerns the industrial sector, machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical products; while Italy imports mainly oil from Iran, the total value of imports in 2018 has reached almost 3.4 billion euros. Italy has a market share of 3.8% in Iran today, which could double up to 7.3% if it could only express its potential, bu there are many difficulties.

  1. The exit of United States with Trump from the Nuclear Agreement, what solutions are being adopted to try to resolve the impasse?

3)To resolve this impasse, Europe and Italy had studied various devices, whose validity still remains in doubt. The Italian Government had in recent months thought of creating a bank able to exchanges with Iran, which on State protection would have had to guarantee credit to our companies but the project is probably burred for different vision of the majority parties. After the recent visit of Mike Pompeo in Italy, who complained about to go-ahead granted to the Iranian Airline Mahan Air, suspected of financing the Guardians of the Revolution, things will hardly improve. The European Union has prepared the Special Purpose Vehicle, a legal mechanism that would allow our companies to bypass USA sanctions. The idea is complex because it involves a sort of exchange that does not constitute a real financial or monetary exchange, technically difficult, as well as the use of of bitcoins for payments. The European Investment Bank has been authorized to lend to Iran but may face retaliation due to its relationship with the USA. We would need gateways banks, that is small banks with low exposure to the international financial system, such as the German regional banks, but with the risk that the host European countries will be sanctioned by the USA.

  1. There is a proverb in english that says: what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger. Don’t you think Iran is more powerful, more autonomous than it was before the sanctions? A more stable country than what foreign investors would think; i mean a weak country that can very easily be broken if confronting with the most powerful country on the world, The United States of America?

4)If we judge Iran according to an alternative, multipolar perspective, yes. Iran certainly appears from this point of view a sovereign, stable nation, with an ancient culture behind it, an important geographical position, a young population, economically rich in raw materials (oil and gas in first place). But if we look at it through the eyes of eurocentric and occidental logic, typical of certain US-led capitalist globalization, this vision appears very different. The image built by media mainstream, even in Italy, is that of an Iran that supports radical Islam due to its opposition to american and zionist interference in the Middle East. Therefore, if Iran wants to build a more active cooperation with european countries, it will invest more in its own soft power, emphasizing for example the beneficial role in the defense of eastern christians, in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and in the fight against wahhabi and salafist terrorism.

  1. What is your personal suggestion for the release from the current problems Iran has? A logical and possible suggestion based on the facts we know about the real situation, the people, the government and ideologic tendencies.

5)For me in Iran only a minority of population looks to western liberalism, the majority of population shares the policy of independence assumed by both factions commonly known as reformist and conservatives. A possible solution could be this: to create a Government of national unity that safeguards Iran’s sovreignity by setting aside their respective differences; integrate Iran into eurasian structures such as the OCS, the UUE and OTCS, so that western threats of a possible aggression are definitively averted. It’s a paradox but treating from a geopolitical position of strenght, it will be possible to lower the tension that remains in the region and avert the attempt to isolate Iran. Within the country, a fair balance between modernity and tradition will be the key to maintaining current stability in Iran.