Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corporation said on Thursday that it is considering re-entering the Iranian market after the recent removal of the economic sanctions on the country.
“We signed a licensing deal with Iran Khodro Industrial Group for local production in 2005. With the recent easing of sanctions, we’d like to consider restarting our business there,” Suzuki President Toshihiro Suzuki told reporters, as reported by Reuters.
Under its agreement with Iran Khodro, the company which specializes in compact cars, sent parts for 6,200 cars to Iran in 2011, its peak year of operations in the country, Reuters added.
Suzuki has now joined other global auto leaders including Daimler, Peugeot, Renault and Fiat that have voiced interest in returning to the Iranian market in a post-sanctions era.
The economic sanctions against Iran were lifted over the weekend after a nuclear deal that the country had sealed last year with the P5+1 group of countries – the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – was implemented.
A central theme of the sanctions concerned restrictions over investments in Iran’s auto industry as well as any form of cooperation with the Iranian automakers.
Iran is the Middle East’s largest auto market with a population of 80 million who bought 1.1 million cars in 2014.The automobile industry is seen as Iran’s biggest non-oil sector, accounting for nearly 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Iran Khodro and Saipa companies account for more than 90 percent of the total domestic production in Iran.
Latest data shows that Iran ranks 18th on the list of the world’s top auto manufacturers. The 2014 production statistics by the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) indicate Iran’s auto production increased by 46.7 percent in the 12-month period.