Top executives from Iran's PCC question legitimacy of US sanctions

20 September 2010 04:40  [Source: ICIS news]

Iran(Recasts lead for clarity)

By Chow Bee Lin and Prema Viswanathan

TEHRAN (ICIS)--The US should not have imposed sanctions on the Petrochemical Commercial Co (PCC) of Iran, as PCC is not a state-owned company but a private entity in which ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) holds a 55% majority stake, ICC's chairman said late on Sunday.

On 10 June, the UN issued its fourth round of sanctions against Iran. A few days later, the US and the EU came up with their own set of sanctions against Iranian companies, and the US had included PCC in its list of restricted firms.

"Why should PCC be banned and embargoed?" said Alinaghi Khamoshi. He was speaking at the company's 20th anniversary dinner held in Tehran on Sunday.

Urging the global business community to respect and work with PCC as they would with any other private company, Ahmad Ali Saatnia, director of The Plastics Industry Magazine, a local downstream publication, said PCC would press on with its business plans despite the sanctions.

Iranian people were like plastics; "however much you pressure them, they bounce back," Saatnia said in Farsi.

ICC was founded as a government organisation in 1919 but had since evolved into a private entity whose core business is to promote trade and investment, open markets for goods and services, and the free flow of capital, the company website says.

The balance 45% stake in PCC, currently owned by the Iranian government, would be transferred to private investors as well, said PCC CEO and board member Reza Hamzehlou.

According to industry sources, the divestment of the remaining stake would be concluded by the end of this year.

PCC's business could have grown even more if sanctions had not been imposed on the company, Hamzehlou said.

In the first six months of the Iranian calendar year, which started on 21 March 2010, PCC exported 7.2m tonnes of chemical and petrochemical products. This was 33% higher from the same period last year, he said.

Its exports during this period were worth $4.35bn (€3.35bn), 56% higher year on year, he said.

PCC's core business was to export chemicals, petrochemicals and oil products, and to import equipment and spare parts. Hence it is important that the company can trade freely, he said.

"We have to buy from every part of the world and sell to every corner of the world," he said in Farsi.

The sanctions have led to an added cost pressure for Iran's exporters due to the escalation in insurance premiums on transporting Iranian goods by land and sea, an industry source said.

PCC plans to challenge the sanctions in court after the US congressional mid-term elections, a PCC source said on the basis of anonymity.

($1 = €0.77)

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By: Prema Viswanathan
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