Reza Sarkhani in International trade and finance law, International trade, export, import, comércio exterior, international trade President and Principal Consultant • Reza Sarkhani Consulting Inc. Jul 12, 2016 · 2 min read · +100

Trading with Iran is a taboo subject!

Trading with Iran is a taboo subject!


It is a general perception in the U.S. that all things under the sun are banned and forbidden to sell to Iran. You only have to do a little search to find that almost every week the federal authorities prosecute someone somewhere for selling goods to Iran. The common pattern is usually a lone individual who has tried to sell illegal goods to Iran.

The fact is that selling to Iran is not illegal for all things. For example, food and medicine and certain medical devices and certain other items remain legitimate and are sold to Iran. To explain this better, a little history about the two countries will shed some light on this matter.

In 1979, Iranian society underwent through a massive upheaval called the Iranian Revolution. Jimmy Carter was the U.S. president and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was the Shah of Iran. At the time Iran and U.S. were best of friends and allies; Iranians were enjoying a strong economy mainly thanks to their oil wealth. U.S. enjoyed a strong military and economic ally in the Persian Gulf region and all was good.

However, the revolution changed all that. The rise of the clergies to power, soon led to occupying the U.S. embassy in Tehran and taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days by radical students and the start of the Iran – Iraq war which lasted for almost 8 years and many other factors created an atmosphere of mistrust between the two countries.

Although, the hostages were eventually released and returned safely home and the war with Iraq ended in 1988 leaving both Iran and Iraq in ruins, the animosity between the U.S. and Iran lingered on to this day. Thirty-five years has passed and relations between the two countries have shown little improvements.

Ironically, the advent of Iran’s nuclear industry has produced an atmosphere where the so-called P5+1 countries (U.S., China, Russia, France, United Kingdom + Germany) and Iran are negotiating the Iranian level of access and control to nuclear technology and material.

Basically, there are two choices available to Iran. Choice 1 to reject the 5+1 proposals to reduce their nuclear capabilities or choice 2 negotiates to the satisfaction of the P5+1 demands.

The first choice could put Iran on a path of war with the United States, which is probably not what the moderates in Iran want. However, the second choice can put Iran on a path of unprecedented economic recovery and prosperity.

As you may be already aware the negotiations have been extended till November 24, 2014. I give it a half chance of success; success being that Iran gives in and meets the West’s demands. Many political groups both inside and outside of Iran may call it a win-win; however, the reality is something else. The fact is that Iran has invested billions of dollars as well as the regime’s security for achieving a nuclear strategy. They will lose all that. If not already, it has made them poorer economically and made them weaker regionally. Iraq is in turmoil because of ISIS (IS) and is practically at the Iranian border, though Syria is faring better than a few months ago.

Nevertheless, in the long term, a sound nuclear agreement is in best interest of Iranian nation. Iran is hungry for new investments in its oil industry. Their infrastructure in transportations (air, land and sea) is crumbling and it is just a matter of time for Iran and its people to enjoy an unprecedented economic boom. Hopefully, the United States will be a significant part of this recovery.

On the other hand Iran enjoys a young population, highly educated work force, who are rational and far friendlier than any neighboring countries towards west in general and the United States in particular.

In the past 35 years, the American companies, for the most part have stayed away from the Iranian markets. However, now is an excellent time to explore the possibilities that Iran has to offer.