2016; a milestone in business relations between Iran and Finland

Year 2016 dawned with uplifting news of eased economical sanctions in Iran, which has been shaded there for many years. Meanwhile two-way business visits between Iran and Europe particularly Scandinavia had been already started. Finland has been among the highlights by beginning with its historically largest delegation visit organized by Team Finland in December 2015. Numerous Finnish business owners from many different sectors including water resource management, waste management, energy efficiency, renewable energy, woodcraft, forestry, health and ICT accompanied minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Lenita Toivakka during the visit.

And this was just a preliminary step for the succeeding frequent business visits between Iran and Finland. Many business events were organized in 2016, mainly through active cooperation of Iran and Finland embassies, internationalization network of Finland, Team Finland, and the chambers of commerce from different provinces of the both countries as collaborative organizers.

The visit of Iran’s minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Javad Zarif, was among the highlights right before the summer season in Finland. The visit was accompanied by a large delegation mostly coming from banking, ICT, health, agriculture, mining, energy, construction and trading. The event started with B2B roundtables, continued by various introductory presentations around current trends of doing business with Iran and finalized by ministerial keynotes. The main focus of negotiations were solving banking/money transferring issues, practical methods for trade financing (guarantees and payments), contemporary possibilities of partnership between Iranian-Finnish traders, finding solutions for accelerating logistics processes and considering the open trade as a new motive for more favorable business collaborations.

This happening also initiated other similar smaller-scale events, particularly between chambers of commerce from both sides. Autumn 2016 could be considered as the high business season between Iran and Finland with several held events in forms of seminars, workshops and visits aiming for introducing the possibilities of collaboration, following the current trends and facilitating the challenges in between. One of the most notable events was the Iran seminar in Helsinki House of the Estates, organized by Team Finland with the joint contribution of Finnvera and Finpro, August 2016. The event was focused on financing and investments and there were welcoming speeches, addresses and presentations mainly from remarkable names including Finland’s minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen and ambassadors of Iran and Finland. The seminar was followed by Q&A sessions about practicalities in doing business with Iran, the same day in Helsinki and a week later in Kuopio, in presence of Ambassador Harri Kämäräinen. The latter other important events could be named as delegation visit of Iran’s Zanjan province chamber of commerce organized by south-Savo chamber of commerce and also Sanandaj chamber of commerce visit organized by FinnCham which both were mainly focused on agro-industry and mining.

The climax of Iran and Finland relations has been the phenomenal recent visit of President Sauli Niinistö, in company with high-ranking delegation, to Iran, October 2016. Preluding the national anthem of Finland and welcoming ceremony by the Iranian counterpart, President Hassan Rouhani, was an official launch for the numerous alongside happenings.

Outcomes of this festivity, apart from the historic authoritative meetings, press conferences and other important occasions, were few signed agreements and memoranda of understanding, with the common theme of enhancing the ties and facilitating the economic relations between two countries. Technology transfer in the fields of energy, health, mining, agriculture, clean-tech, ICT, bio-economy and water/waste management were addressed among the negotiations. In addition, both sides showed a great interest towards launching a direct railway between Tehran and Helsinki, facilitating the cooperative investments and finding solutions for ongoing challenges in banking.

East Consulting Ltd., not only has been enthusiastically following the news and current trends between Iran and Finland, but also has been actively participating in most of the occasions. In addition to be an inside observer of the held events, East Consulting also collaborated in few events by facilitating the organizer with its services like training and interpreting. Last but not least of the noted events, was a business networking seminar event in Tehran, November 2016, in a joint collaboration between East Consulting Ltd. and Iran Business for Future association, part of ICCIMA (Iran chamber of commerce).

There were introductory remarks from commercial attaché of Finland embassy with the theme of Finnish business culture and opportunities for collaboration. In the following, managing director of East Consulting, Jonne Pöyhtäri, gave a comprehensive presentation about general practicalities of business communication and also possibilities of technological partnership with Finnish companies especially in the fields related to energy, health, water desalination, biotech, and forestry. The session was followed by a speech from an Iranian parliament member and finalized with the Q&A session, which brought many useful discussions to the table. The focuses of final negotiations were on current challenges involved in monetary transactions with Iran and also some issues with logistics particularly on the way of constructing the railway connection to Finland through Azerbaijan.

All the effort of the whole East Consulting team in the year 2016, was for meeting our clients’ expectations, from all over of our covered geographical locations. The spirit of East Consulting team has been created on the basis of multiculturalism, mutual understanding and customer satisfaction. Our biggest wish for the year of 2017 is to overcoming the present challenges on our way to serve our precious customers with the uppermost services possible and being even more insightful agents to them. We wish you all a prosperous year ahead!

The blog text was written by Houra Saghafifar.

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