Sanctions? What Sanctions? German-Iranian Trade Booms

While the United States reacts to reports that Iran had enriched enough uranium for a nuclear weapon with concern and calls for tighter sanctions, in Germany it is business as usual.

Today, many of the leading lights of German-Iranian trade will be meeting at a conference in Hamburg in order to discuss how further to promote the “success” of German business with Iran.

The title of the conference is “Iran Sanctions: Practical Consequence for German Firms.” The organizer is the Hamburg-based German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, which was founded in 1936 and resumed its activities in 1952 with largely the same personnel as before. The Chamber of Commerce continues to work with the Iranian Saderat Bank: a bank that was blacklisted by the United States in September 2006 on account of its relations with terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

“Even in these difficult times,” the conference announcement states, the Chamber of Commerce wants to “support” German firms “developing markets in Iran”: “We would be delighted if we could thus contribute to the success of your business with Iran.”

The list of conference participants reads like a “Who’s Who” of German-Iranian trade relations.

Norbert Eisenmenger, for instance, will be speaking on the “current economic situation.” He is the managing director of the European-Iranian Commerce Bank (EIH). As its latest report notes, the bank closed out 2007 “with record earnings yet again”: “Net profit doubled…, the volume of transactions increased by 35%.” The EIH Bank employs some 75 persons at its headquarters in Hamburg and has offices in Iran both in Tehran and on Kish Island. Eisenmenger is also one of the two managing directors of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce.

The topic “Financing Iranian business deals” will be covered by Sabine Hummerich. Ms. Hummerich appears at the conference as the representative of Bank Melli Iran. Bank Melli is fully-owned by the Iranian regime. The 2007-2008 report of Bank Melli’s German subsidiary in Hamburg notes that “On balance, yields developed in a clearly positive direction and led to a record results.” Net income thus increased by 33% as compared to the previous year.

In June 2008, the European Union placed sanctions on Bank Melli.

Ms. Sissi Gerstenkorn will be representing the insurance company Euler Hermes and speaking about export credit guarantees for Iran via the German government’s “Hermes” program.