DCG hails partial easing of sanctions on Iran
US government allows sale of mobile phones, gadgets, software and other technology to Iranian consumers
The Dubai Computer Group (DCG) has welcomed the US government's decision to relax sanctions on Iran that will allow American companies to sell mobile phones, gadgets, software and other technology used for personal communications to Iranians.
The move announced by the US Treasury Department recently, allows Iranians to get access to the latest mobile phones and newest software, which have only been available in Iran through the black market since sanctions were first imposed in 1992.
Shailendra Rughwani, president of DCG, said although as an association, the DCG has not had any official information on the latest development except through media reports, this is good news for the overall IT market in the Middle East. "This means that US-based companies can directly sell into Iran. This will surely benefit UAE-based companies that are focusing on sales to Iran but have experienced challenges especially with the currency fluctuations. Hopefully with the new government coming into power in Iran, things will change and we can look forward to business picking up in that country," he said.
Rughwani warned DCG members to take cautious steps as the Iranian currency is still unstable and the limited easing means other sanctions still apply. "We want to appeal and urge our members to look for realistic opportunities and make sure that the products being sold comply with the US regulations," he said.
The US government first eased some technology restrictions in 2010, allowing American companies to export to Iran some basic software and free Internet services such as chat and email.
According to US officials, the latest move allows vendors to sell software and hardware to Iranian citizens but the sanctions laws still prohibit sales of technology to the Iranian government or any blacklisted people.
Elizabeth Shine, a spokesperson at Dell's Middle East operations said: "We are aware of and are reviewing the limited easing of restrictions on trade with Iran, but have not made any changes in our operations in the Middle East as yet. We won't speculate on whether or when our approach on exports to Iran might change. We do anticipate greater clarity from the government on the parameters of the new rules, which are yet to be specified."
Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Dubai-based consumer electronics retailer Jacky's Electronics, said: "Even though the US sanctions on trade for certain technology products may have been relaxed, we need to ultimately see footfall in our outlets for this to translate into sales."
Panjabi pointed out that channel players should check with other stakeholders before starting trade with Iran. This, he said, should include the banks a channel partner deals with, distributors supplying products, credit insurance agencies and American brands whose goods the business intends to sell into Iran. "I know from conversations with a few vendors I have had, they are still waiting for a clear signal from their headquarters on whether they can sell into Iran or not. Various banks have also paid severe penalties in the last couple of years and the last thing any bank wants is to be blacklisted by US, EU or UAE banking regulators," he said.