With other European states leading the pack; we might wonder why our own government is not doing more to ensure that UK plc is better placed to take advantage of business opportunities in Iran.
British expert in legal affairs Guy Martin in an article published in Friday edition of the Financial times which began with the above statement finds fault with the British government’s lack of the required vigor for securing the British nation’s interests in Iran at least as good as the French, the Italian and a handful of other European countries’ governments.
A priority for the FCO must be the negotiation of a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) — a crucial mechanism affording legal protection to investors should they encounter difficulties.
France, Italy and Germany have all concluded BITs with Iran. Second, nearly six months after reopening, the British Embassy in Tehran still does not have a visa office. Iranian businesspeople have to fly first to Istanbul to obtain a visa to enter the UK, providing a further obstacle to encouraging trade ties.
A final point: there needs to be positive and coordinated messages from both the FCO and the Treasury on Iran. While the FCO is in theory giving the green light, the Treasury’s advice is a maze of technicality that British businesses may struggle to comprehend without specialist legal advice.