Firms say Congress blocking Iran plans

In the wake of the recent anti-Iran bills adopted by the US Congress, global corporate leaders are already complaining that American lawmakers are undermining their plans to approach the vast Iranian market. 

The Wall Street Journal in a report has quoted business leaders as saying that the Congress “is wedging itself into [Iran’s] the post-nuclear sanctions business climate”.

Richard Matheny, a partner at Goodwin & Procter, has told the Journal that American lawmakers are making it tougher for companies to seek deals with Iranian counterparts. “For a business evaluating prospective risk, it’s tough: This is the way it is today, but tomorrow could be different,” said Matheny.

US companies are feeling left out, while foreign ones can engage, added Matheny. However, the US financial system is stymieing some of that business by enforcing sanctions concerns more harshly than the Treasury Department requires, he emphasized.

The Republican-dominated US House of Representatives has passed two bills imposing new restrictions on Iran one year after a historic nuclear agreement.

The lower chamber of Congress voted 246 to 179 Thursday to pass a new set of sanctions on the Islamic Republic and 246 to 181 for legislation to block its access to US financial systems.

The measures came a day after the House approved a bill to ban the purchase of “heavy water,” a byproduct of nuclear energy, from Iran.

Top corporate executives have told the Wall Street Journal that moves by the Congress as well as other conditions that still exist around Iran investment activities have forced companies to spend the last six months evaluating the risks involved in approaching the Iranian market.  The companies, they have emphasized, are still working through various compliance hurdles that remain despite the lifting of nuclear-related US and international sanctions.

“We’re still in the very early phases of even understanding the overall impact on commercial business of the implementation of the JCPOA,” said Douglas Jacobson, a partner at international trade-focused firm Jacobson Burton Kelley PLLC, referring to the nuclear deal that Iran sealed with the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – last year

He called any real assessment of the deal’s effectiveness “premature” and noting it’s still in its early stages. “We’re only in the first chapter and the rest of the book hasn’t even been written,” the Wall Street Journal has quoted Jacobson as saying.

The report has further quoted legal experts as saying that the remaining US sanctions on Iran are causing more problems for foreign companies than anyone expected, in part because of the difficulty for them to wall off any US person or product from a transaction with Iran.

“This is resulting in a really, really sharp focus on the concept of the ‘US person,’” Richard Matheny, a partner at Goodwin & Procter, has told the Wall Street Journal.

There are more opportunities in Iran than what companies are thus far taking advantage of, but they’re slowly starting to recognize what’s authorized under a general license issued in January and could begin to move forward soon, said Matheny.

By Press TV