Trade support, biggest result of Rouhani’s trip to Europe

IRNA – An Indian expert of world affairs believes the support of the business community for Iran was the most remarkable positive outcome of the recent visit of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Europe.

In an exclusive interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Professor Geeta Kochhar of the Centre for Chinese and South East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi commented on the recent Europe visit of President Rouhani and said it was an attempt to garner the much needed support to Iran’s nuclear deal.

‘I think the visit is the last minute attempt to get support for the 2015 nuclear deal from other countries,’ she said.

Professor Kochhar, however, said that there are more complex issues involved, whereby, the interests of the business community will be in a direct counter position to those of the politicians.

‘Even if the European leaders will be more willing to offer support and alternatives, the business community might have to look towards the US for their stance,’ she added.

Professor Kochhar went on to say that in her opinion Trump is more aware of such realities than any other leader.

‘Unless there is some inclined or mediating posture coming from the US, the verbal support of the European leaders will mean nothing, as there seems less possibility of the European leaders to exert extensive pressure on the US,’ she said.

Professor Kochhar said that the only possibility of a positive outcome, can be the support of the European business community to the Iranian leader.

On the extent of the Europe’s resistance against the US pressure, the distinguished analyst of the international affairs, said that in order to resist pressure from the US is very much likely, as ‘we saw that the US was left quite isolated’ even during the recent G-7 Summit. ‘Hence, those extending support to the Iranian President will go against the US President.’

However, she said that the issue of significance is whether this will really help Iran in any manner or not?, adding that Iran has to make concrete choices in order to make adjustments to its commitments, which might sound more imperative than essential.

‘This will also ensure avoidance of future frictions and brewing of greater animosity. I am sure that these choices have to be the independent decisions of Iran and not due to certain pressure groups,’ Professor Kochhar added.

Expecting India and China to engage with the US over the oil imports from Iran, Dr. Kochhar, who is also a visiting scholar at the Fudan University in China said: “None is going to have direct confrontations with the US, especially China, as it is already into a trade war with the US for its own goods and commodities. China would more likely not indulge in any such friction with the US. However, this will only have marginal effect on the overall oil imports from Iran as neither India nor China can afford to cut the umbilical ties with Iran for ever. There is accentuated internal demand of both markets and this demand creates a pressure on both India and China to rethink their positions.”

“This, also means that either both will have to cooperate on taking a collective decision to deal with the situation or have bilateral understandings with both Iran and US to find alternative solutions to not affect their domestic markets.”

On the possible methods that the EU, India and China can adopt to neutralize the US move, she said: “the US sanctions on any country has not been a new phenomenon of the times, but the circumstances around us have undergone a change. Now, even if it is still a ‘one-superpower’ international order, the rise of ‘multiple powers’ and the possibility of alliance of the other powers, especially in a China-led world of ‘major power relations’ has changed the realities around us. In fact, there is also a new shift towards the emerging economies with small powers becoming conscious of their geopolitical advantages. This changing global dynamics creates new pressure groups and alternative pressure points for each state to not deal issues in a bilateral engagement, but collate under the umbrella of multiple power engagements.”

“I think that a collective understanding of few or more countries as to what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in the global trade needs to be redefined in these new dynamics. Interestingly, China and India have already taken a common posture on standing against protectionism and advocating globalization. If there will be imperatives of domestic pressures, I do see both India and China along with European countries collating to develop joint mechanisms for a comprehensive action plan.”

To a question on the possible consequences of total collapse of the Iranian nuclear deal, Dr. Kochhar said: “The likelihood of total collapse of the deal at this stage seems very less, but in case that really happens, it will only lead to emergence of new power equations and formations of alternative alliances that will stand against the US. There will be a new rise of West Asia and Central Asia in particular, where many of the long term interests of the states will converge. These will pull many other powers, especially both India and China, to engage in multiple overlapping formations.