Germany sees a big rise in trade with Iran, preparing the first high-profile foreign delegation for visit to Tehran this week since the conclusion of nuclear talks on Tuesday.
Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel will arrive at the head of a large political and trade delegation on Sunday for a two-day visit which will also take him to the central Iranian city of Isfahan.
The 60-strong delegation will include representatives of big German industrial companies such as Linde and Siemens, Amir-Hossein Zamaninia, Iran's deputy oil minister for commerce and international affairs, said.
Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor, will meet with President Hassan Rouhani, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh as well as Iranian ministers of trade and energy and the central bank governor.
"We expect to see a big increase in trade, especially in German sales of capital goods," the Deutsche Welle website quoted Michael Tockuss, chief executive at the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, as saying.
According to the German Foreign Ministry, bilateral trade grew by 27% to 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion) in 2014 because of the sanctions relief. With the conclusion of nuclear talks on Tuesday, conservative estimates foresee bilateral trade expanding to 6 or 7 billion euros in 2016 assuming sanctions are dropped quickly, DW said.
Tockuss said trade volume could easily rise to double-digit billions in the longer term given the size of the two countries’ economies. Germany had a GDP of 3.27 trillion euros in 2014 in terms of purchasing power parity versus Iran's $1.18 trillion.
German companies have been exploring opportunities in Iran for months amid expectations that the sanctions would be lifted.
“Airliners flying to Tehran have been full of German businesspeople for weeks or months. The mood has brightened considerably during the past year," Tockuss said.
Iran expects to resume its exports of crude oil, agricultural products and petrochemicals especially from a 350 million-euro complex which is being built by Linde at the Imam Khomeini Port.
The Germans hope to step up industrial equipment and machinery sales to Iran given the size of industries in the Middle Eastern country.
Iran has a massive oil, gas and petrochemical sector. It is the biggest producer of cars in the Middle East. It also manufactures aircraft, a wide range of agricultural products, cement and other construction materials.
"Construction machinery, chemicals, food processing, renewable energy equipment - those are some of the areas I think are especially promising for German industry," said Sasan Krenkler of Krenkler & Partner, a business consultancy specialized in helping German companies enter Iranian markets.