Iran is one of the world markets that everyone wanted recently to get a share of with the prospect of sanctions ending, oil and gas exports starting in a significant way, and imports rolling in as the country starts to modernise.
US president Donald Trump’s often voiced reservations about the nuclear deal with Iran, which paved the way for the market opening thaw, could prove a problem for that trade scenario but Trump’s threats have still to take effect.
And the Czech Republic, although not perhaps among the leaders in moves to land some of those orders, has nonetheless been very active in positioning itself in Iran as well in spite of some of its handicaps.
One of those disadvantages has been that official diplomatic relations between Tehran and Prague have been as good as frozen for the last 20 years. The Czech alignment with US-led claims that Iran was developing its nuclear weapons capacity under the guise of a civil programme was one issue and the US funded broadcasts of Radio Free Europe to Iran out of Prague was another factor in cooling relations.
But full scale diplomatic relations between Prague and Tehran now appear on the verge of being restored, according to the Czech business daily, Hospodářské Noviny. Within weeks the two countries should confirm their respective ambassadors and they should take up their posts, the paper adds. It adds that the experienced diplomat and head of the current Czech office in Tehran, Svatopluk Čumba, has already been given the nod by the Iranians that he can take up the post. The process should be completed by the end of the year.
Czech trade delegations have already headed for Iran ahead of the full disappearance of sanctions and proof that Iranian companies can finance the imports that they desperately need.
Famed tractor producer Zetor in January this year announced a contract to deliver 250 vehicles to Iran. An order for 400 buses is in the process of being negotiated by the bus manufacturing company SOR Libchavy, according to the business paper.
And, of course, the Czech Republic’s biggest manufacturer and exporter, Škoda Auto, is looking to get its foot in the door in the Iranian car market where pent up demand is thought to be massive.