Government to consider reopening embassy in Iran

Enterprise Ireland delegation to visit the country to scope out trade opportunities

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Plans to re-establish an Irish embassy in Tehran are likely to be put before the next government in a bid to cement trading ties with the Middle East’s second-largest economy.

Since the lifting of western sanctions in January, European countries have been courting Iran.

With a population of 80 million, it is the largest country to rejoin the global marketplace since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

The Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia and 17 Irish food companies took part in a trade mission to Tehran last week.

An Enterprise Ireland delegation will visit later this month to scope out possible tie-ups in healthcare, financial services and technology.

“Ireland’s diplomatic network is subject to ongoing review to ensure that our resources are aligned with the greatest needs and opportunities,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan told The Irish Times.

“In this context, I am very conscious of the political, economic and trade factors in favour of opening of a resident diplomatic mission in Iran with the primary aim of assisting Irish companies who wish to avail of the new trade opportunities now opening up there,” he said.

Sanctions

Iran’s €400 billion economy has been subject to sanctions for more than three decades. Their removal unlocks up to $100 billion (€87 billion) in assets.

The government is targeting growth of 8 per cent under a new development plan.

Oil remains the bedrock of the Iranian economy and it plans to boost output to levels last seen during the reign of the last Shah in the late 1970s.

Tehran has already signed major trade deals with France, Italy and South Africa, and will host trade missions from Germany and Russia in the coming months.

Ireland’s trade with the country amounted to just under €4 billion last year with the single largest component being fizzy drink concentrate.