Iran signed the country’s biggest-ever car deal worth several hundred million dollars with French manufacturer Groupe Renault on Monday to produce 150,000 cars a year, the latest advance by a European company into Iran’s sizeable consumer market.
The 660 million or $778 million deal follows the lifting of the UN and European Union sanctions after Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers to curb its controversial uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear weapons.
It also comes just days after new US sanctions on Iran were signed by President Donald Trump, who spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron over the weekend about ways to counter Iran’s influence in Mideast conflicts.
The US legislation, first passed by Congress, imposes penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.
Unimpeded by US sanctions that apply to American businesses, Asian and European companies have raced for a share of Iran’s market since international sanctions were lifted. Iran, with its population of 80 million people, sits atop the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and the second-biggest reserves of natural gas. It also has well-established manufacturing and agricultural industries.
Just last month, France Total SA and a Chinese Oil Company signed a $5 billion agreement with Iran to develop the country’s massive offshore natural gas field in the first such deal since the landmark nuclear deal was struck. Also, Washington granted permission to Chicago-based Boeing and its European competitor Airbus to sell billions of dollars’ worth of aircraft to Iran in September 2016.