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"Iran Business Responsibility" launches website

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is working with International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on the "Iran Business Responsibility" (IBR) project.

Visit the project website launched in June 2017, and explore the articles below for insights on the new investments in Iran.

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11 December 2016

Boeing Speaks in Trump Terms on Iran Deal: It’s About Jobs

Author: Christoper Drew, New York Times

Boeing announced a $16.6 billion deal on Sunday to sell planes to Iran, which for decades had been economically blacklisted by the United States. The company instead chose to emphasize how many jobs the sale would support.

“Today’s agreement will support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs” associated with the production and delivery of the planes, Boeing said in its news release.

The intended recipient of Boeing’s message clearly seemed to be President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Its carefully worded statement is emblematic of the tightrope that America’s biggest exporters are walking amid his threats to shake up trade policy and undo the Obama administration’s nuclear accord with Iran. That agreement lifted the American sanctions on Iran, making Boeing’s jet deal possible...

Boeing said its agreement with Iran called for 80 planes to be delivered, starting in 2018. They include 50 of a new version of its single-aisle 737 jet, 15 of its larger 777s and 15 of a new 777X that should be ready for service by 2020.

House Republicans have sought to block the sales, and Mr. Trump has said Iran would not have been able to negotiate with Boeing if it had not been for the “disastrous Iran nuclear deal,” which put limits on Iran’s nuclear programs. But in a tweet that gives Boeing hope, he also expressed concern last January that Iran might buy its jets from Airbus instead of Boeing.

Iran said on Sunday that it was close to signing a deal to buy 118 planes from Airbus as the nation seeks to play the two companies against each other.

Another big hurdle for Boeing would be how to finance its sales to Iran. Conservatives in Congress have been trying to kill the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which has long provided subsidized credit to promote American exports. Mr. Trump has said he does not think the bank is needed, but he added that he had not made a final decision.

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10 December 2016

Hyundai Heavy Gets $700 Million Deal to Build 10 Ships for Iran Shipping Lines

Author: Wall Street Journal, In-Soo Nam

"Shipbuilder also seals $600 million deal to build two ships for the South Korean government"

SEOUL— Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. received a $700 million order to build 10 ships for Iran’s state-owned shipping company in a deal that signifies the Middle Eastern country’s return to the international market after a decade.

The deal is part of plans by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and Iranian Offshore Oil Co., a subsidiary of state oil company National Iranian Oil Co., to spend a total of up to $2.5 billion to modernize their fleets.

Iranian shipping companies haven’t modernized their fleets since 2006, when the United Nations imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Tehran over its uranium-enrichment program. The sanctions began to be gradually lifted in January.

“This marks Iran’s first ship order since international sanctions were lifted early this year. Hyundai plans to provide technical support for Iran to run its shipyards as well,” the South Korean company said Sunday.


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7 December 2016

Shell Signs Preliminary Iran Oil Deal Despite Uncertainty Over Trump

Author: Benoit Faucon and Sarah Kent, Wall Street Journal

Royal Dutch Shell PLC on Wednesday said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran’s state oil company to explore future ventures, signaling that giant energy companies won’t be deterred by President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to undo the Iran nuclear deal.

Shell is the largest company to wade back into Iran since the U.S. and other world powers lifted sanctions in January in exchange for Tehran’s agreement to strict limits on its nuclear program. The British-Dutch firm follows Total SA of France, which last month signed a $4.8 billion deal to develop a large gas field in Iran and is negotiating for an oil deal now.

The scope of the deal remained unclear Wednesday. A Shell spokesman said Shell and the National Iranian Oil Co. signed an understanding to “further explore areas of potential cooperation.” The agreement is non-binding and doesn’t come with an investment commitment, unlike the recent agreement Total concluded with Tehran.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Iranian oil ministry had said Shell was going further, signing agreements to develop two giant oil fields that are important to the future of the country’s oil industry.

The return of Shell would be a breakthrough for Iran’s energy industry, which has been slow to attract investments from the world’s biggest oil companies since the U.S. and other world powers lifted sanctions related to Tehran’s nuclear program. The continued existence of separate U.S. sanctions on Iran over terrorism, human rights and weapons has impeded investment, while oil companies in particular are concerned with the terms Iran wants to impose on foreign companies.

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21 November 2016

Obama Seeks to Fortify Iran Nuclear Deal: New steps weighed include licenses for more American businesses and lifting additional U.S. sanctions

Author: Carol Lee and Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration is considering new measures in its final months in office to strengthen the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, senior U.S. officials said, with President-elect Donald Trump’s first appointments foreshadowing an increasingly rocky road for the controversial deal.

Action under consideration to buttress the pact includes steps to provide licenses for more American businesses to enter the Iranian market and the lifting of additional U.S. sanctions...

The Obama administration is considering new measures in its final months in office to strengthen the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, senior U.S. officials said, with President-elect Donald Trump’s first appointments foreshadowing an increasingly rocky road for the controversial deal.

Action under consideration to buttress the pact includes steps to provide licenses for more American businesses to enter the Iranian market and the lifting of additional U.S. sanctions.

The effort to shore up the agreement was under way before the election and is not aimed at boxing in Mr. Trump, who opposes the deal, the officials said. Officials also acknowledged the proposals are unlikely to make the nuclear agreement more difficult to undo.

Mr. Trump’s first two picks for his national security team—retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn as national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) as Central Intelligence Agency director—are hard-liners on Iran who have voiced opposition to the nuclear deal.

Trump transition team officials didn’t respond to questions about their plans for the agreement or the current administration’s efforts to shore it up.

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9 November 2016

Briefing: "Doing Responsible Business in Iran"

Author: Iran Business Responsibility Project

The easing of international sanctions against Iran has opened up the opportunity for increased foreign business activity in the country. As a resource-rich, largely untapped market with significant investment needs in hydrocarbons, infrastructure, automotive and other sectors, Iran is attracting investor interest.

Yet any business activity will be taking place in a context that poses significant challenges for companies. Companies can easily find themselves involved with adverse impacts on people and the environment.

[Describes challenges business will face in the following areas: Business relationships; Online privacy; Child labour; Sexual harassement; Health & safety; Refugees & migrant workers; Discrimination; Human trafficking and forced labour; Environmental degradation; Labour conditions: Rule of law].

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8 November 2016

Total Signs Major Deal with Iran

Author: Andrew Callus, Reuters

"Total has become the first western energy company to sign a major deal with Iran since sanctions were lifted"

France's Total has signed a deal with Iran to further develop its part of the world's largest gas field, becoming the first western energy company to sign a major deal with Tehran since the lifting of international sanctions earlier this year.

Total confirmed on Tuesday it had signed a heads of agreement with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for the Phase 11 development of South Pars in the Gulf, which extends into Qatari waters where it is known as the North field.

The SP11 project will progress in two stages, the first costing an estimated $2 billion, Total said. The produced gas will be fed into Iran's gas network...

Foreign companies keen to tap into Iran's vast oil and gas reserves have so far made little inroads into the country despite the lifting of many sanctions earlier this year following a landmark agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Tehran has pledged to open up its oil industry but foreign companies, including BP and Italy's Eni recently said they still have little information about Iranian oil fields and contract terms, hindering investment decisions...

Total said it would operate the SP11 project and have a 50.1 percent stake in it. Petropars, a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company, will have a 19.9 percent stake while state-China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) [CNPET.UL] will have a 30 percent stake...

Total will develop the project in compliance with national and international laws and the investment will be undertaken without bank finance, he [Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne] told reporters.


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7 November 2016

Iran launches first post-sanctions bidding round

Author: Walid Khadduri, Middle East Online

Oil Ministry hopes to sign at least $10 billion worth of energy deals by April 2017 as it launches new Iran Petroleum Contract

The state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) called on international oil companies to participate in a pre-qualification process for new upstream tenders it plans to launch. NIOC plans several rounds of tenders for exploration and production of oil and gas projects, the Oil Ministry news service Shana stated.

The Oil Ministry said it hopes to sign at least $10 billion worth of energy deals by April 2017 as it launches the new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC), which replaces a buy-back model contract. The IPC was approved in September after much wrangling within the Iranian political hierarchy.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was opposed to the IPC, which its leaders said would threaten the elite unit’s extensive economic interests. Brigadier-General Ebadollah Abdollahi, head of the IRGC’s industrial conglomerate Khatam al-Anbiya, said: “No one is against foreigners coming. We can have some cooperation with them.”

Khatam al-Anbiya, Iran’s largest industrial contractor, opposed plans by the Oil Ministry to put international firms in charge of major projects.

Abdollahi said the IRGC was “ready to cooperate with foreign investors, provided that the engineering and implementations be undertaken by Iranians”....

The return of international oil companies to Iran would encroach on the IRGC’s economic interests.

“The government is in need of much cash to finance development projects. Oil rent is the most important such source that is available to Iran,” First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri said during a mid-October industry conference in Tehran...

Since the lifting of international sanctions last January, six agreements have been signed: Denmark’s Haldor Topsoe for licensing and engineering equipment for a methanol plant; Total, for an ethane cracker feasibility study; South Africa’s PetroSA for gas-to-liquids (GTL) research cooperation; Germany’s Linde for olefin feed; British-Dutch Shell for ethane and GTL feasibility study; and Japan’s Sojitz Corporation for a methanol to propylene plant feasibi

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1 November 2016

Iran opens for Telecoms Connections: Western telecoms and media groups look to strike deals in untapped market

Author: Nic Fildes and Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times

When Twitter’s Jack Dorsey tweeted Hassan Rouhani in 2013 to ask if any of the citizens of his country were able to read the Iranian president’s tweets, he probably did not expect a response. To the surprise of many in the West, Mr Rouhani quickly shot back a friendly missive that access to global information for Iranians “is their #right”...

The telecoms sector is largely state-owned, with expectations among analysts that parts of the market will be privatised in the near future. Iran is already the largest mobile phone market in the Middle East with more than 103m mobile connections and 47m smartphones — mostly Samsung and Huawei models — in use in 2015, according to Analysys Mason.

An already long list of international telecoms companies is lining up to enter the Iranian market to improve internet access and mobile services. Vodafone, Telecom Italia, AT&T and Nokia have rushed to get into Iran in recent months, striking deals with local groups, while Orange and Interoute, the London-based networking company, also plan to have a presence in the country. There have been 52 applications for licences to operate telecoms services since sanctions were lifted.

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31 October 2016

The Statement by Ahmed Shaheed - The United Nations General Assembly – Session 71

Author: Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

...[final paragraph]: I encourage the international community to continue to find effective and creative ways to engage with Iran on human rights as they seek to broaden their political, economic and cultural relationships with the Government. Increasing engagement with the Iranian government and continued focus on its human rights record are not, and need not, be mutually exclusive realities. As I have said before, Iran’s reengagement with the world provides a golden opportunity not only to reach out to world leaders, but also international businesses seeking to invest in Iran, to do their part in ensuring respect for human rights in the country. But such engagement, must not proceed at the expense of clear, strong and public support for better human rights protection, without which there are no real long term dividends.

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18 October 2016

Calling Tehran: Vodafone Leaps Into Iran With Internet-Service Deal

Author: Stu Woo and Asa Fitch, Wall Street Journal

Vodafone Group PLC intends to work with an Iranian internet-service provider to help improve its local networks, becoming the first big Western firm to jump into Iran after the U.S. moved earlier this month to make it easier for companies to do business in the Islamic Republic.

The U.K. telecommunications carrier said Tuesday that it plans to assist Iran’s HiWEB, a small, privately owned operator, in modernizing infrastructure and expanding landline and mobile internet services for personal and business customers.

Vodafone didn’t disclose details, including any planned investment in the venture. It said that it wouldn’t take an equity stake in the project.

Vodafone isn’t the first—or even the biggest—Western company to enter Iran after world powers started lifting global sanctions earlier this year, following Iran’s agreement to curb its nuclear program. But the move comes just a little over a week after the U.S. moved to ease regulatory hurdles that have kept many Western companies at bay.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury loosened restrictions on Iran’s ability to trade in the U.S. dollar, and widened the pool of potential business partners in Iran for non-American investors.

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