Prior to the introduction of international sanctions as a reaction to the Iranian nuclear programme, Germany maintained intensive business relationships to Iran. German-Iranian trade in 2016 amounted to about 3 billion euro in total. German exports to in den Iran grew by 26 percent in 2016 to reach 2.6 billion euro. Germany is still one of Iran’s most important European trade partners. The most in demand German exports include machinery, food and pharmaceutical products.
So the 21 Iranian managers who graduated from the manager training programme at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria in Westerham in October 2017, felt even more strongly that they were acting as pioneers in the revival of German-Iranian trade relations. Ali Taheri, Trade Manager at Hooshmand Kerkereh, Iran’s leading producer of automated doors for trains, believes: “The company visits and training courses were a major opportunity for us and for our companies.” The managers – most of them the proprietors of the companies themselves – came to Germany with a whole bunch of questions: Are the German firms familiar with the Iranian market? Is there even any interest in cooperation? How can we win over German businesses as partners for our companies?
In addition to trainings on various management topics, the Iranian executives especially found the joint and individual visits to Bavarian and other German companies to be very exciting. It was particularly interesting for the managers to see in person that the notion that small- and medium-sized companies are the “backbone of the German economy” is not a cliché, but reality. In Marktschellenberg, in the furthest southeast corner of Bavaria, they visited the injection moulding and stamping parts producer PSM Protech GmbH & Co. KG. The complex parts and components produced by the company, which counts only 220 employees, have become essential for the automotive industry, information and communications technology, and medical and laboratory technology. Getting a firsthand impression of the world of German small- and medium-sized enterprises and their values and internal structures helped the Iranian managers to understand the procedures in German companies. Jalal Yousefazari, Vice President of Azarettesal Co., the leading manufacturer of automotive drive systems in Iran, said: “In Germany we have understood what makes up the essence of German business culture.” The successful continuation of family businesses impressed the Iranian executives. “The cultures are very different, but the foundations of family business are the same”, noted Abolfazl Shahmohammadi Dermeni, Chief Logistics Officer at Barinsaz. The Iranian company produces brake pads, brake calipers and brake cylinders for the automotive industry.
The uncertain political circumstances were a major topic for the participants, but most of them encountered open doors and interested partners for talks at the German companies. Mostly thanks to their participation in the MP, the executives succeeded in establishing contacts to potential business partners and convincing them of the quality of their companies and products.
By Bianca Lörenz and Lisa Schäfer
Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria, Westerham