Major Global Companies are Leaving Iran to Avoid U.S. Sanctions: FDD Study

Efforts by European countries to help Iran are not enough to convince companies to stay.

David Adesnik, Saeed Ghasseminejad
10th September 2018 - FDD Research Memo

(Washington, D.C., Sept. 10, 2018) – Major international corporations are leaving Iran rather than face the risk of unilateral U.S. sanctions, despite the efforts of European governments to neutralize the sanctions’ impact, according to a new report issued today by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). 

The report, “Foreign Investment in Iran: Multinational Firms’ Compliance with U.S. Sanctions,” finds that in the first four months since the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), 31 European and Asian firms in the Global 500 announced they will be leaving the Iranian market or indicated their exit was imminent. The list includes France’s Total, Airbus, and PSA/Peugeot, Denmark’s Maersk, Germany’s Allianz and Siemens, Italy’s Eni, Japan’s Mazda and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, and BP from the United Kingdom.

Renault, the only European member of the Global 500 that originally expressed an intention to resist American pressure, now says it is likely to suspend operations, citing the need to comply with U.S. sanctions.

“We found that unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran remain extremely powerful even when European governments seek to neutralize their impact,” said FDD Director of Research and co-author David Adesnik. “If the U.S. administration’s goal is to convince Iran to end its nuclear program, stop sponsoring terrorism, and halt its support for the murderous Assad regime in Syria, then the administration should maintain its maximum pressure effort.”

The FDD report serves as a scorecard for those tracking the efficacy of U.S. sanctions, including U.S. Treasury and State Department officials, and other U.S. government policymakers who monitor sanctions compliance. It provides country-by-country lists of European and Asian firms with investments in Iran, indicating which are likely to stay, which to leave, and which have made no announcement. The report covers 232 companies and related entities in all, of which 67 are part of the Fortune Global 500 list of firms with the highest revenues. So far, 19 companies plan to stay, 71 to leave, and 142 have yet to make their intentions clear.

“At a time when its economy is already in crisis and its currency is collapsing, Iran is rapidly losing the most important investments made as a result of the 2015 nuclear deal,” FDD Research Fellow and report co-author Saeed Ghasseminejad said. 

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About FDD:
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, DC-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Visit our website at http://www.defenddemocracy.org/and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube

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