Sweden is firmly eyeing Iran for auto business

Sweden is firmly eyeing Iran for auto business

Scandinavian automotive supplier association, FKG's decision to lead a component delegation to Tehran has been swiftly echoed by Sweden's Enterprise Ministry setting up a permanent office in the Iranian capital.

FKG has been a strong advocate of reopening business ties with Iran and its visit last year has now been reinforced by Sweden establishing a Tehran office ahead of the widely-anticipated and imminent lifting of sanctions against the country, which could see a flood of automotive companies start to enter a territory once formerly off-limits for most Western businesses.

Stockholm has long had an Embassy in Tehran, but a December, 2015 visit by Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg paved the way for Business Sweden to establish a permanent foothold for industry before the country is due to have draconian economic sanctions lifted.

An indication of just how lucrative the West is now viewing the 2m-strong vehicle market in Iran, can be gauged from the challenges posed by physically travelling to Tehran, such is the demand to gain access.

"It is very, very difficult to get a flight to Tehran and even more to get a hotel," FKG CEO, Fredrik Sidahl told just-auto from his organisation's headquarters in Gothenburg. "Mikael Damberg was there [Iran] in December with a delegation – now Business Sweden...which supports business abroad will set up an office.

"It is a great business opportunity for the vehicle industry and the global problem of erasing emissions."

Despite the huge wave of optimism currently sweeping Iran – where a young population is hungry to access Western goods and technology – the deal to verify that Tehran is sticking to its nuclear energy pledge has still to pass Congress in the US.

There is a hard core in America fiercely opposed to easing sanctions against Iran after decades in which many believed Tehran was enriching uranium for the development of nuclear weapons, but Sidahl has his foot planted firmly in the optimists camp.

"I am confident sanctions will be lifted so we bring Iran into the global automotive community," said the FKG chief. "The reasons for that is a: It is a great business opportunity for the industry and Europe and b: It is a great opportunity for environmental issues like reducing CO2.

"We need to support Iran as a Middle East manufacturer of cars and trucks of good technology. When sanctions are completely lifted, we really need to go in with a second trip, perhaps in conjunction with Business Sweden, latest the Fall.

"It is a country in desperate need of of good environmental technology."