Iran: a market of 80 million people returns to world trade

It seems that there’s a great consumer thirst in the Islamic Republic. This promises opportunities for exporting SMEs. However, it is not an easy market, so S-GE has built a network of partners there

The Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce based in Tehran has set itself the goal of facilitating trade relations between Switzerland and Iran. It has a good network to the authorities and also helps with cultural understanding in commercial matters. Switzerland Global Enterprise therefore has a competent partner on the spot.

The core problems are these: unemployment, inflation, and a difficult financial environment

“The end of the sanctions was a great step, but it will take a while yet until everything is functioning properly again in Iran,” says Abdi Moinpour, General Administrator at the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce in Tehran. The Islamic Republic has to battle with high unemployment, which probably lies between 13 and 16%. However, many Iranians suspect it is considerably higher at around 30%. “But our population is young! Around half are under 30 years old, and well educated into the bargain,” contends Moinpour. Nonetheless, it is only recently that Iranian banks were admitted again to the international payment system SWIFT. However, some Iranian banks are still under sanctions and remain excluded. “It will still be a while before foreign investment returns,” reckons Moinpur. This is urgently needed particularly in infrastructure and industry. Iran is also struggling with a high rate of inflation. Hopes are high that these problems will disappear with the lifting of the sanctions. “However, it will certainly take another one to two years before the large banks venture into Iran again,” says Moinpour.

There is a tradition of relations with Switzerland

Assieh Mir, Head of Marketing and Public Relations at the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce points out. “For a long time, young Iranians have been going to Switzerland, especial Romandy, to study. There are currently around 250 Iranian students enrolled at the EPFL Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.” Particularly the EPFL in Lausanne but also the ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich are popular with Iranian students. In this regard also, Mir hopes for a fruitful partnership to be built again between Switzerland and Iran. The Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce does not confine itself to the construction of economic relations, but also highlights cultural aspects. “Iran has a different culture from Switzerland and this must not be underestimated. However, we can mediate and arrange things, and we can help in dealings with the administrative bodies,” says Mir, explaining the role of the Chamber of Commerce.

Partnership between S-GE and the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce

“In order to be able to properly advise our customers, we need reliable partners such as the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce,” says Suhail el Obeid, Senior Consultant for Iran at Switzerland Global Enterprise. “There are still many challenges at the moment, such as money transfer, lack of market transparency, and great competition from Asia.” However, it is still dealing with this market, which can also act as a gateway to the region.”

Switzerland Global Enterprise is planning a trip for entrepreneurs in May. We will let you know as soon as it is possible to register via the Iran web page and Twitter.

Come to our Iran event on 25 May 2016 in Lausanne

Furthermore, Switzerland Global Enterprise is organizing mini SWISS Pavilions on the fairs Iran Plast , Iran Health and Iran food+hospitality / Iran food+bev tec in Tehran. Click here for more information!

You can also chat about your market entry strategy at the Exportdialog in Lucerne (in german, 17. März 2016), the Exportdialog in Bern (in german, 05. April 2016) or our Iran Information Day on 16 September 2016 in Basel or contact our consultant Suhail El Obeid directly.

Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research: Road Map for the Enhancement of the Bilateral Relations between the Swiss Confederation and the Islamic Republic of Iran


With the coming into force of the nuclear agreement on January 16, 2016, the majority of the international sanctions against Iran were lifted. However, with regard to the trading of goods and services as well as financial transactions, certain prohibitions and approval and reporting obligations are still in place. In the event of uncertainty, companies are advised to contact SECO. Specific business transactions must be submitted to the responsible department in SECO (Export Controls/Industrial Products) via the electronic approval platform ELIC. General enquiries should be forwarded to the following e-mail address:

Swiss Export Risk Insurance SERV is again authorised to insure exports to Iran and therefore to cover the risk of non-payment for Swiss exporters. You can find more information under this link

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