FRENCH vehicle maker the PSA Group says it is pushing ahead with a plan to invest in Iran’s auto industry despite an increased anti-Iran rhetoric by the United States under President Donald Trump.
PSA Middle East chief Jean-Christophe Quemard said that a hardened US stance against Tehran under Trump could even play to the carmaker’s advantage. He added that the renewed pressure from Washington against the Islamic Republic could probably extend PSA’s lead as rivals hold back from re-entering the country.
He said: ‘This is our opportunity to accelerate. It will become even harder for American companies to operate, that’s for sure. We’ve opened up a lead and we plan to hold on to it.’
Peugeot – a member of PSA Group – signed an agreement worth 400 million euros with local company Iran Khodro last year for the joint production of 200,000 cars per year. Citroen – another PSA Group member – also signed an agreement worth 300 million euros with another major local partner SAIPA for the production of 150,000 cars per year.
Iran Khodro CEO Hashem Yekezare had previously said that his company’s first joint project with the French company – the Peugeot 2008 SUV – would be released to the Iranian market in March. The 301 and the 208 models – will be released later. The first Citroën of the new generation will be released to the Iranian market in early 2018.
Iran has the Middle East’s largest car market. The automobile industry is seen as Iran’s biggest non-oil sector, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Iranian manufacturers produced 1.6 million cars in 2011, about half of them by Iran Khodro. The total production of automobiles are expected to reach as high as 1.3 million by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2017).
• Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan has unveiled a marine outboard gasoline engine, dubbed Tous. Addressing a ceremony on Tuesday, Dehqan said the marine engine was designed and manufactured by Iranian experts. He added that the propulsion system is one of the most important parts of vessels.
He said: ‘Iran’s Defence Ministry, Navy and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Naval Forces have put the design and manufacture of marine propellers on their agenda as part of efforts to make greater use of maritime resources which can help national development, the Tous marine engine is one of the valuable achievements made in this regard.
He said that the 200-horsepower engine can provide speeds of up to 41 knots (74 kilometres per hour) for vessels. Dehqan further stressed the importance of using nuclear energy to develop the country’s naval industry, including in the production of marine propellers.
He said: ‘In the field of marine advances, particularly in the sector of large vessels, we should use nuclear technology to develop marine propellers.’ Hew added that the country must also move toward reducing the environmental impacts involved.
In December 2016, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) to draw up plans to design and manufacture nuclear propulsion devices as well as the fuel required for them in response to the US violation of the landmark nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015.
Rouhani said the measures were warranted as the United States is ‘foot-dragging in fulfilling its commitments under the multilateral nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – and the ratification of anti-Iran legislation in the US Congress known as the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA).’ Iran had warned it would take reciprocal action if the ISA was approved. Iran has written a letter of complaint to the United Nations over the vote on the legislation in the US Congress.
• Iran and Luxembourg have said that all the parties in a multilateral nuclear deal between Iran and six other countries must comply with their contractual obligations. President Rouhani and Luxembourg’s visiting Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn stressed the importance of continued commitment to the deal on the part of the relevant parties during a meeting in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Tuesday.
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister is in the Iranian capital at the head of a high-ranking political delegation. Rouhani said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is officially known, was an accord devised and signed based on the ‘win-win’ approach.
He added: ‘Today, all should try to sustain this agreement. The Islamic Republic will keep honouring its commitments as per the deal as long as the other parties keep honouring theirs.’ Asselborn said his country supported the agreement as did the rest of the European Union (EU)’s members. He said: ‘In a multilateral agreement, all should act on their obligations. Peace does not come about in the absence of multilateralism and a lack of care for multilateral agreements.’
The JCPOA was reached between Iran on the one side, and the US, the UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia on the other. The administration of US President Donald Trump, has threatened to unilaterally scrap it but faces pressure from the rest of the parties, which say the deal must stand.
During the meeting with Asselborn, President Rouhani also said that consultation and cooperation between Iran and Europe can help deal with such problems as terrorism and extremism that are faced by all countries. The Islamic Republic can also serve as both an energy source for Europe and a means of connecting it to the Indian Ocean and East Asia, Rouhani noted.
Asselborn stressed Iran’s importance for the EU and the country’s ‘important and influential role in resolving regional issues.’ Both sides also stated that their respective countries’ are willing to expand bilateral ties. Back in October last year, Luxembourg’s Economy Minister Etienne Schneider visited Iran and held talks with his Iranian counterpart Ali Tayyeb-Nia on the further expansion of economic cooperation between the two countries in the near future.
Also on Tuesday, Asselborn and Tayyeb-Nia signed an agreement on encouraging mutual investments. The deal provides legal guarantees for the countries’ businessmen. The European official also announced the finalisation of an agreement on cooperation between the two sides’ Central Banks.
• Iran says Russia’s aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company is moving closer to a deal to sell its Superjet 100 aircraft to the country. Maqsoud As’adi Samani, the secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines, was quoted by the domestic media as saying that Sukhoi had already started technical talks to obtain a license from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to sell the planes to Iran.
Samani said: ‘The manufacturer of Sukhoi Superjet 100 will follow the receipt of due OFAC permits to enter Iran’s market. The Chances of SSJ-100 depend on the confirmation of Iran Civil Aviation Organisation regarding the airworthiness of the aircraft as well as the OFAC license.’
The 108-seat twin-engine SSJ-100 is among Iran’s options for renovation of its fleet of regional jets, alongside Japan’s Mitsubishi Regional Jet and Brazil’s Embraer. Russia’s media reported in December of last year that Sukhoi had sealed a basic deal with an unnamed Iranian company to study the projected sales of its SSJ-100s. The agreement is still not binding.
Hossein Alaei, the head of Iran’s Aseman Airlines, had earlier said his company was negotiating with Sukhoi as well as several other leading global plane makers to renovate its fleet. Alaei added that Sukhoi had carried out trial flights of its Superjet 100 in Tehran in December 2016 – what he said had been carried out at the invitation of Aseman Airlines.