Iranian businessman and grower Hossein Jafarzadeh was one of the exhibitors at IFTF 2016. At least, that was the intention. Pierre van den Ende, who works with Sakata in Iran, had to take his place. Jafarzadeh couldn’t get a visa. He’d signed up for the trade fair in Vijfhuizen because he was expecting the relationship between Iran and the West to improve.
Jafarzadeh was hoping to be able to start exporting to Europe soon. Van den Ende was a bit more cautious. “It all depends on the outcome of the elections in the US”, he said with foresight.
The relationship between Iran and the West has been bad for decades. Ever since the Shah went into exile in 1979 and ayatollah Khomeini turned Iran into an Islamic republic. When 52 Americans were taken hostage at the American embassy in Tehran, Jimmy Carter was the first president to impose sanctions against the country.
The number of sanctions increased over the years. One of the reasons was that Iran was thought to have its own nuclear programme.
Jafarzadeh’s hope for improved relations was brought about by the Nuclear Agreement of 2015. Iran had agreed to stop its nuclear weapon programme. In return, certain parts of the sanctions were suspended. Iran was delighted.
But then, four days after IFTF 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the US. An improved relationship between Iran and the West has been very unlikely since then.
More recently, Trump even withdrew from the Nuclear Agreement. As a result, Iran still can’t export any flowers to Europe and all sales to Iran by Dutch suppliers, which was possible, have come to a halt. Banks are no longer facilitating the trade. They all fear potential repercussions from the US.
Fact is, that the Iranian floriculture industry has great potential. They’ve got a large acreage of plants and flowers, the government has got major plans and the desire to export is greater than ever before. Despite the large population of 90 million, the domestic market isn’t large enough, due to poverty (as a result of the sanctions). That’s why there were more Iranians than ever before at IFTF this year.
Are things ever going to work out for Iran? I can tell you this: it all depends on the American presidential elections of 2020.