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German Businessmen Travel to Iran Before Sanctions Disappear

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In Iran, the embargo kept the competition off Mammut's back. "We also make portable buildings," says Ferdows, and asks whether he should send a few thousand to Germany for the refugees. Chilling at the Orient Hotel in Yazd, Iran. Amir Kabir Hostel in Esfahan. Amir Kabir hostel is a long-running backpacker place in Esfahan. After some negative reviews a couple of years back, the management listened and improved their facilities.

Islam is not inherently hostile to religious…. Ill-planned operation in Syria could land…. A random litany of potentially better news…. Merkel and Macron's secret disputes. Tel Aviv fears Hezbollah more than ever. Artists and art collectors get prepared for…. Water crisis and the phenomenon of migration…. Iran, a torch-bearer of Islamic unity. Gathering of Tehran mayors FM Zarif IRGC deputy Turkey resumes oil imports from Iran Iran, Afghanistan bilateral trade to grow through reducing, removing motorway tolling Romania supports EU-promised financial channel to Iran A random litany of potentially better news for Iran seen from miles Ahead of the planned lifting of Western sanctions against Iran, businessmen from around the world are visiting the country, and as one group from Germany discovered, there is no shortage of opportunities.

He is wearing his comfortable travel pants and carrying a shoulder bag filled with only the essentials. But Diekmann decided to make the trip anyway, from Vechta, an administrative district in northern Germany, to Iran. His two egg-laying farms in Damme, in the southern Oldenburg region of northwestern Germany, produce , eggs a day. Like other country boys, he says, he only spoke Low German, a dialect used in some parts of the northern end of the country.

Diekmann was the youngest of nine children. His mother died when he was I wanted to succeed. And that's why Diekmann, of Alfons Diekmann GmbH, is standing at check-in counter 40 at Imam Khomeini Airport early in the morning, together with 98 other representatives of small and medium-sized companies from Lower Saxony.

They include logistics and waste disposal experts, leading manufacturers of turbofans, plaster products, port cranes, special paints and pumping equipment, dump trucks and reel slitters, and now, at 2: After years of talks, the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program was signed in Vienna on July 14, , paving the way for an end to the embargo against Iran.

The country is expected to begin dismantling nuclear facilities by the first quarter of Then, on what has been dubbed Implementation Day, most of the economic sanctions will be lifted. These are relatively vague prospects. Nevertheless, when the business owners from Lower Saxony go to breakfast the next morning, they quickly realize that they are not alone. The lobby of the Parsian Azadi Hotel is abuzz with delegations, Frenchmen, Croats on a "fact-finding" mission, Dutch, Italian and British businesspeople.

Every day, there are reports in the Tehran Times on the arrival of "groups of high-ranking visitors," "amicable talks" and the exchange of opinions and memoranda. It is literally a run on Tehran. The various delegations seem to be sizing each other up, eager to determine which competitors are there, who has already established relationships with Iranians and who has quietly taken up positions.

Businessmen discreetly peek at the nametags of their fellow passengers in elevators, and everyone behaves as if they weren't there - as if they were in an indecent place. Then a group of businesspeople from the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg arrived, followed by a delegation of lawmakers. There are so many Germans coming to Iran that the German Embassy in Tehran has cancelled practically all employee leave since July. Now it's very difficult to get an appointment at the cabinet level," says Bernd Fedder of the state economy ministry in Hanover.

He looks on with frustration as a group of Croats is guided through Tehran traffic with a police escort. Because of the last tightening of sanctions in , it is not possible to transfer money to Iran through the Swift system. There are also no Hermes guarantees for export deals, and it isn't easy to transfer earnings from Iran to Germany. Next to Turkey, he says, Iran is one of the most stable countries in the region.

The ambassador talks about the social networks that are technically banned yet still used by President Hassan Rouhani. He goes on about market opportunities and stable basis data, the high standards at universities "two-thirds of students are female" , Iran's dormant "human resources" and good infrastructure, and the excellent reputation of the "Made in Germany" brand.

The ambassador also describes a market of 80 million people, one that is largely underused, and where the basic attitude toward all Germans appears to be: KG, which provides logistics Services to car parts suppliers. He will have to rethink his image of Iran. A gaunt, somewhat agitated looking man jumps to his feet and says: Where do I find them? He can coherently explain technical problems in a few sentences, and he has a solution for everything -- except one thing: The ambassador refers him to the chamber of commerce, and he also offers him a tip: Is there a palpable sense of tension among these small and medium-sized business owners?

Not exactly a fever, but a somewhat elevated temperature perhaps? So there is still plenty of room for growth. Alfons Diekmann is sitting off to the side.

He is a heavyset and trusting man who would come across as self-engrossed if it weren't for his slightly puffy but very alert eyes. He is now In his native Lower Saxony, they say few people know as much about chickens as he does. He may have started out as an electrician, but he made an important realization during that time: The embargo is a case in point, because it made the Iranians realize that not every German product could be replaced with a Chinese replica.

Diekmann knows all too well that relationships are critical to doing business in countries like Iran. He stayed at the Burghotel in Dinklage. After seeing a television special on Al-Jazeera about an air-conditioned poultry farm in southern Oldenburg, Suwaidi invited Diekmann to stay at his luxury hotel in the desert.

They are now friends, says Diekmann. Later in the conversation, he pulls a photo album out of his pocket. For Diekmann, the earth is egg-shaped rather than round.

People take him seriously, because it is clear how seriously he takes his work. Perhaps this attention to detail is one of the secrets of the success of Germany's small and medium-sized companies, collectively known as the Mittelstand. To help people establish relationships with representatives of the "Evil Empire," the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce set up a "B2B" contact exchange. It's a form of speed dating, in which Iranian businesspeople walk from one table to the next, together with an interpreter and a handful of brochures of the Lower Saxony companies.

The business owners from Hanover are quickly surrounded by Iranians, who treat them like saviors. It feels good to the Germans to be courted this way.

In Germany, my industry is usually the target of criticism. At the next table, Frank-Michael Rösch is sitting behind a stack of measuring sticks and company calendars.

His company provides rail service technology. You have a partner, but if you're lucky a better one will come along.

It's all nonsense, of course. Rösch is the only person wearing jeans at this event, and there is no sign of the fact that his company has offices in Shanghai and Manila. He has two Mercedes-Benz cars with gull-wing doors in his garage in the German city of Braunschweig.

But a bazaar isn't the same thing as Aldi. It's really arrogant to try to export our moral values along with our products. As far as morals are concerned, some things have changed in Lower Saxony recently.

In the wake of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, the German carmaker's representative had to withdraw from the trip at the last minute.

He politely introduces himself and says: The official leader of these scouts from Lower Saxony is the state economy minister, Olaf Lies, from the port city of Wilhelmshaven.

Lies became an electronics technician in the navy and later earned an engineering degree. He looks attractive and competent, and he has the ability to give speeches in any situation that contain phrases like "great appreciation," "important signal" and "expectations. The German businessmen, dubbed "The Mittelstand from Lower-Saxonie" by their Iranian hosts, are taken in busses to the spice bazaar and the "JoJo" brewery, which makes non-alcoholic beer. They also visit a plant that builds Peugeot cars under license.

In the meantime, the minister meets with high-level Iranian politicians. As usual, the meetings begin with a tribute to Allah and end with the Iranian host being presented with a Pelikan fountain pen imprinted with the Lower Saxony crest.

A group of unshaven men without ties sits across from the minister. They give the impression that they have met with many delegations in recent weeks, each of them filled with expressions of sympathy for the Islamic Republic. These men are uninterested in speeches and fountain pens -- they want to reap the fruits of the nuclear agreement, and they want it soon.

The economy is in tatters and youth unemployment is at 30 percent - and Iran is a country with a lot of youths. They apparently liked what they heard. Well, I'm open to everything.

He's off to a running start. Diekmann is familiar with the market. People, you need to deliver eggs to Abu Dhabi. It's difficult to build a farm there. You need to deliver to Libya, Iraq and Syria. They are also versatile and easy to ship. And everyone can eat eggs, regardless of their religion. He believes things will eventually settle down. It was unthinkable to go dancing in a Protestant village. It's hard to believe, but that's the way it was, as recently as Diekmann has already hired a refugee from Syria.

He says that he and his wife were also treated as outsiders for many years when they moved from Diepholz to the nearby town of Damme.

The words "Royal Safar Iranian" are printed on the tour buses that take the German delegation through Tehran's vast suburbs. There are few visible signs of being in the Middle East on this trip, as the buses pass row after row of half-finished concrete buildings. Investors prefer to keep their money in the bank, where it earns a decent amount of interest.

The country feels like it's in a holding pattern. German business owners in delegations see the world with different eyes; they see challenges where others see only squalid conditions.

The clogged streets, rusty buildings and garbage everywhere, the lake behind the factory building where acids are dumped, the cheap tires from China - for these German businessmen, these things are all opportunities. Rösch, the railroad services technician, takes pictures with his mobile phone.

For Diekmann, the earth is egg-shaped rather than round. His mother died when he was

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