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Rowhani: Foreign investors in Iran must share benefits

Business delegations from around the world have flocked to Tehran since the July 14 nuclear agreement

Published: Updated:

Would-be foreign investors in Iran should be prepared to share the benefits of their deals, the country's president said, indicating Tehran will impose tough terms that could clash with U.S. regulations even after sanctions are lifted.

Business delegations from around the world have flocked to Tehran since the July 14 nuclear agreement, which could see international sanctions lifted in early 2016 and open Iran, an energy exporter with a large middle class, to world markets.

But President Hassan Rowhani on Saturday suggested foreign investors will be welcome only if they work with a local partner, hire local workers and transfer technology, in some of the most explicit comments to date about the obligations businesses are likely to face.

"If foreign companies or countries think they can take control of a market of 80 million people, they are mistaken, and we must not allow it," Rowhani said at a news conference broadcast on state television on Saturday.

"Our policy is that you bring your investment and technology to the country and partner with Iranians, and then a part of the Iranian and regional markets will be within reach of us both and there will be employment for our youth."

Iran has not yet revealed any specific contract terms it will impose on foreign investors. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh on Monday said a new model oil contract would be completed in September and introduced at a London conference in December.

Rowhani's comments echo those of Reza Norouzzadeh, the chairman of the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization, who earlier this month said companies were "only welcome to Iran's economy through joint investment".

Such requirements are typical in developing economies, but companies could get into trouble in Iran if they accidentally partner with an entity under non-nuclear sanctions or share technology with potential military applications, experts said.