Sophie Ryan is a Business Herald digital journalist.

Govt issues top tips for Kiwi business in Iran

The New Zealand Middle East Business Council says its member companies have been monitoring the situation and "the potential of opening up of trade with Iran". Photo / AP
The New Zealand Middle East Business Council says its member companies have been monitoring the situation and "the potential of opening up of trade with Iran". Photo / AP

After a historic deal was struck between Iran and the United Nation, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has updated its advice for doing business with the Middle East country.

In July last year Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme and the United Nations Security Council made changes to sanctions against the country.

The deal followed more than a decade of diplomatic wrangling aimed at keeping Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

New Zealand companies no longer have to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade before doing business with Iran, after New Zealand Trade and Enterprise changed its regulations this month.

Sadeq Hedayat, commercial advisor at the New Zealand Embassy in Tehran, has offered some advice for people interested in business opportunities in Iran through NZTE.

1. Research first

While there are opportunities in the emerging market, Iran remains a challenging and complex place to do business, Hedayat wrote. "An opaque and arbitrary regulatory environment, weak commercial law framework, and problems with corruption mean that New Zealand companies pursuing the market will need to do their homework in advance."

2. Understand the culture, forge local relationships

Understanding the people, culture, etiquette, local laws and customs will help New Zealanders understand the business, Hedayat wrote. Forming local business relationships will be important in the success of foreign businesses.

3. Understand the affect on relationships with the other makrtes and seek legal advice

Stewart Germann, New Zealand Middle East Business Council chairman, said people should be aware there were some limitations around banking and visa restrictions to the United States. It is particularly important to seek legal advice on the potential impact of autonomous sanctions, including US sanctions, against Iran.

4. Take it slowly in the beginning

"Iranians are deliberate negotiators who can drive a hard bargain," Hedayat said. Iranians can be demanding and New Zealand companies are advised to start slow in the market and gradually test both the market and their agent.

5. Banking channels may be a challenge

New Zealand companies should check with their banks before any trade commitments are made with Iran. Germann said there currently are problems with getting money in Iranian banks out.

• With all of this in mind, Germann said the message from Iran is positive. "Kiwi companies will be very welcome, the climate is changing and it's reasonably safe. Watch this space, it's work in progress at the moment."

- NZ Herald

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