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Experts: Clock Is Ticking for Business With Iran

Feb. 18, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By AWAD MUSTAFA   |   Comments
An Iranian pharmacist stands behind the counter in Tehran. Some medications and medical devices are among the products where sanctions have been temporarily eased.
An Iranian pharmacist stands behind the counter in Tehran. Some medications and medical devices are among the products where sanctions have been temporarily eased. (Agence France-Presse)
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ABU DHABI — Despite the relaxation of some sanctions against Iran, defense suppliers and companies will have limited opportunity to take advantage, experts said Monday at a forum here hosted by the Defense Services Marketing Council and Washington firm Patton Boggs.

According to lawyers from Patton Boggs, companies looking to do business with Iran have only a 180-day window.

“The P5+1 interim agreement does not open much in the way of opportunities in the defense and space industries,” said Patton Boggs partner Daniel Waltz to The National newspaper.

“If they’re making good progress, it would be foolish to walk away and you could imagine a second six-month interim agreement if they continue to negotiate toward a comprehensive agreement,” he added.

Waltz said that six months isn’t much time to complete an agreement and the US may revisit the six-month window at least for insurance companies.

“The US, thus far, has adopted a very hard line which limits the commercial value of the small relaxation that exists even further,” he said.

William Nash, managing partner at Patton Boggs, said that although there may be more changes to the sanctions regime over time, there is no guarantee the ongoing negotiations will be successful.

The partners said some of the sanctions have been imposed by law while others by executive order.

“Only those implemented by executive orders could be rescinded during negotiations,” Waltz said. “Those implemented by law could only be rescinded by an act of Congress, therefore Obama’s room for negotiations was significantly limited.”

Currently, US firms have opportunities in the sale of aircraft parts and services; maintenance, repair and overhaul for civil aviation; the sale of food, medication and medical devices; agricultural products; as well as some areas of information technology and telecommunications.

Areas not available to US companies include automotive, precious metals and purchase of Iranian petrochemicals, they stated.

Within the next six months, up to $8 billion of frozen Iranian assets also will be released, Waltz stated

Still, all transactions must be initiated and completed within the six-month window, they said, which started as of late January.

“If you can get a contract to service Iranian aircraft, for instance, execute, perform and get paid within the six-month window, then that’s an opportunity but the clock is ticking,” Waltz said.


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