The third AMB Iran (26 to 29 June 2018) in Tehran closed its doors with a solid number of visitors and high visitor expertise despite a drop in the number of exhibitors. 3,615 visitors (2017: 5,736) met 135 exhibitors (2017: 202) from 13 countries. In spite of the difficult financing opportunities at present, 74 per cent of visitors are planning an investment; however, the success of business after the event remains to be seen on account of the high investment sums for machine tools and the threat of removing Iran from international payment transactions. Nevertheless, the expertise of the trade visitors was once again impressive: 87 per cent of visitors assigned themselves to industry and came primarily from the following sectors: automotive (37%), components suppliers (16%), the oil and gas industry (8%) and general mechanical engineering (6%). 1 in 2 Iranian visitors travelled to the exhibition from outside Tehran from industrial centres such as Isfahan or Tabriz, a clear indication that AMB Iran has become important all over the country.

Ulrich Kromer, President of Messe Stuttgart said: "The third AMB Iran was a good and an important event. Even though the USA issued new threats against Iranian oil supplies during the exhibition and we are worried about the increasingly more difficult situation with banking transactions, the feedback from our exhibitors and visitors shows that AMB Iran is needed despite the very difficult problems with business at present.“

Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the German Machine Tool Builders' Association (VDW) added: "In response to our initiative, there was also a joint German stand again at AMB Iran this year. This was more than just an exhibition element. The Iranian partners and visitors also actually regarded it as a commitment to the nuclear agreement. The strengthening of economic relations is an important component for the continuation of political dialogue and for necessary change processes.“

Strong EU presence in Iran

The presence of representatives and delegations of the European Commission at AMB Iran was a clear indication of the efforts by the European Union to develop economic and trade relations with Iran. As the representative of the EU member states during the Bulgarian presidency of the EU Council, Christo Stefanov Polendakov, Bulgaria's Ambassador to Iran, emphasised during the opening ceremony that the unilateral withdrawal of the USA from the Iran deal did not equate to new sanctions against Iran. He said that because lawful business had to continue, the European Commission was engaging in intensive discussions with Iran. During the course of these discussions the Directorate-General GROW, which is responsible within the European Commission for the Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and the Iranian Chamber of Foreign Trade TPO (Trade Promotion Organization of Iran) signed an agreement on political and economic dialogue.

During the EU-Iran Forum a talk was also given by Eric Lighthart, a financial consultant at the Dutch Embassy in Iran and an expert in financial relations between the EU and Iran. He stressed that creativity was now necessary to continue transferring money between Iran and the EU via legal channels. He said that one method was the creation of a European bank, but also that Iran had to make efforts to stabilize foreign exchange trading.

AMB Iran 2018 was also supported by a matchmaking initiative of Eurochambres, the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The Business Beyond Borders programme brought together over 302 companies from 17 countries. More than 250 matchmaking meetings proved that Iran and international companies are still willing to cooperate and conduct business. Sara Lanzilotta, the organizer of the Business Beyond Borders programme, said: "The participation level was really very good in spite of the current surrounding circumstances. We also received a large number of inquiries on the spot and the feedback from exhibitors was extremely positive. We hope that our programme was able to create new partnerships and support European companies doing business in Iran.“

Established as a fixed date for Iranian trade visitors

AMB Iran was developed still further in spite of the difficult economic situation in Iran: 48 per cent of visitors had already attended one or both previous events. 78 per cent of visitors said they would come back to the next event while 80 per cent said they would recommend AMB Iran to other people. However, this indicates more subdued expectations than at the event in 2017 when both figures exceeded 90 per cent. Nevertheless, 75 per cent of visitors are certain that the exhibition will become more important while 22 per cent believe that AMB Iran is already well-established. The main reasons why the visitors attended the exhibition were to obtain information about innovations, specifically conclude contracts, take part in further training and establish new business contacts.

87 per cent of visitors at AMB Iran assigned themselves to industry. 36 per cent of all visitors work in top management, 30 per cent in production and 13 per cent in development departments. 96 per cent of visitors are involved in decision-making processes. It is remarkable that 74 per cent of visitors are planning a specific investment in spite of the difficult financing opportunities at present. The success of business after the event remains to be seen, especially in view of the high investment sums for machine tools.

The Technical Forum, which was organized by the VDW for the third time, went down very well. The talks by Iranian and international exhibitors were well-attended on both days of the exhibition.

Change to a two-year interval

Messe Stuttgart and the VDW, the organizers of AMB Iran, will stage the exhibition every two years in future. The change to a biennial cycle was widely accepted by the exhibitors since it currently corresponds to the market environment of the industry in Iran. The next AMB Iran will take place in June 2020.