New Zealand has lifted its sanctions against Iran after the nuclear deal reached last year.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced steps to lift the sanctions had now been completed, opening the way for New Zealand businesses to deal with Iran again without having to get special approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Some sanctions will remain in place, including restrictions on the trade of nuclear-related equipment, military technology and arms.

Iran was one of New Zealand's top five export markets in the 1980s. Sanctions resulted in New Zealand commodity exports to Iran dropping to under $90 million a year in 2015 from more than $163 million in 2014. Most of it was dairy and animal products.


Mr McCully said New Zealand's embassy in Tehran had been boosted to help New Zealand businesses get back into the market. "High level visits" were also planned for later this year.

"In addition to creating economic opportunities, we hope that efforts to progress the nuclear deal will create a window for Iran to reset its relationship with the international community."

However, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs paper on the lifting of sanctions says while Iran provides economic opportunities for New Zealand it will be challenging.

"An opaque regulatory environment, weak commercial law and IP protection, very high tariff levels and problems with corruption mean that New Zealand companies looking to do business in Iran will need to do their homework."

It warns businesses to get legal advice before moving in Iran.

There has been a series of sanctions on Iran since 1979, including asset freezes, banking sanctions and trading sanctions throughout the 2000s after Iran refused to halt its uranium enrichment programme. A breakthrough deal was forged last year between Iran, the five Permanent Members of the Security Council and Germany. New Zealand was the president of the Security Council at the time the deal was endorsed by the council.

In January, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had taken the measures agreed to under that deal, opening the way for the lifting of most sanctions.