"Obviously we should have been there [Iran] a year ago," SIC board member Robert Sundqvist

"Obviously we should have been there [Iran] a year ago," SIC board member Robert Sundqvist

Swedish automotive companies need to act faster to take opportunities of business in Iran says one association with interests in both countries.

Iran has long been regarded as a renegade State, but a thaw in relations is becoming more evident as talks between Tehran and the so-called 5+1 group including the US, UK, France, European Union, Russia and China, continue to look for a solution to the nuclear question.

This week will see yet more talks in Vienna aimed at finding a way through the impasse and securing the continuation of slight relief to automotive suppliers to Iran that has given optimism for new business opportunities.

"It is clear to us there is a large opportunity for Swedish industry," Scandinavian-Iranian Chamber of Commerce board member, Robert Sundqvist, told just-auto on the sidelines of supplier association FKG's Annual Forum in Gothenburg.

"The automotive industry has a huge amount of people employed and everyone wants a share. I am pessimistic [however] because I believe the Swedish automotive industry is too slow and is losing out on business opportunities.

"Obviously we should have been there a year ago and there [are] clearly a lot of business opportunities."

Despite the potential for trade, Sundqvist nonetheless conceded finance remained Iran's largest problem that effectively provided a trade barrier.

"People who want to business can't do because there are no normal payment methods," he said.

That draconian sanctions against Tehran have taken their toll can be gleaned from Sundqvist's estimation before 2012, the trade balance between Sweden and Iran was SEK6 (US$833m) - SEK7bn, but this had now plummeted to a tiny SEK700m.

Equally, low car penetration of just 175 vehicles per 1,000 population places Iran 67th in world rankings and offers significant potential to Swedish suppliers.

FKG's equivalent in Paris, FIEV, led a supplier delegation last last year to Tehran and to participate in the Iran Auto Industry International Conference featuring 170 attendees from 20 countries.

The Scandinavian supplier body is mulling a similar visit to Iran next year.