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Lord Norman Lamont, UK’s trade envoy to Iran, expressed his optimistic view on resurrecting trade relations with Iran and said that the British market-driven economy is eager to do trade with Tehran.
Speaking to IRNA on the sidelines of a meeting between Iran’s Head of the Presidential Office Mohammad Nahavandian and the British Chamber of Commerce, Lamont said: ‘British economy is a market economy. It is not planned by the government; so things do not happen because the government says.’
Referring to the recent increase in the number of BICC memberships as a positive sign, he added, ‘Who would have thought we would have all those people at the FT conference, few month ago. All of these people who were at the meeting today with Dr. Nahavandian would not have come few months ago.’
‘This is all part of a process that goes on,’ he added.
The British politician also expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the meeting between BICC members and Nahavandian and emphasized that the economic program of the Iranian government had broad support in Iran.
‘Also different British sectors raised questions which were answered; so it was a good exchange of views.’
In response to question on the reason British firms are holding back trade with Iran, Lamont said that the banking issue is one major problem [since] the residual American sanctions are still in place.
‘A lot of British and American banks have been fined enormous sums of money. Some of them have defered prosecution agreements, some are still arguing with American regulators so they are very very cautious.’
“But I think we are beginning to see signs of some of the smaller banks coming back in and I think it will be like a pebble that starts the bigger stones rolling,” he told IRNA.
He also said, ‘We did not have an embassy [in Tehran] for quite while and hence there were no relations.’
Lamont rebuked previous British sanctions on Iran and said, ‘Britain enforced sanctions quite rigorously and so there is more to recover from.’
Asked whether there were any other issues apart from banking concerns for the British firms to start business with Iran, Lamont replied with a categorical “No”.
Lord Lamont has been appointed as the UK’s trade envoy to Iran as part of a wider government attempt to reverse Britain’s underwhelming record of exports.
The appointment of the former chancellor to the new role comes just three months after a series sanctions against Iran were lifted as a reward for Tehran dropping elements of its peaceful nuclear program.