German firms have signed a range of business deals with Iranian partners as part of two-day visit with Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel aimed at rebuilding trade ties. As Sonia Legg reports, the links between Germany and Iran go back a long way.
It used to be cultivated by Persian kings. Now saffron is royally rewarding a small German firm. Former banker Michael Sabet set up Miasa six years ago, importing saffron from Iran to make fine food products. He's doubled his revenues each year and has high hopes for the future. (SOUNDBITE) (German) MICHAEL SABET, FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF MIASA GMBH, SAYING: "I hope the end of sanctions will allow exports to rise and have a positive effect on the import business as well." The two countries were close before sanctions were lifted. But Germany hopes to further spice up its exports. Its economy minister and a planeload of executives are on a trade mission to the country. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN ECONOMY MINISTER SIGMAR GABRIEL, SAYING: "Iran wants German technology. There are substantial market opportunities here for mechanical installations, for everything that is big industry in Germany. But one can't expect miracles. There won't be economic success from day one after isolation from world markets for 15 or 20 years." German exports to Iran jumped 15 percent to 1.1 billion euros in the first half of the year - according to one trade body. They could reach 4 billion euros in the full year. Germany's hoping to cash in on 200 years of commercial and cultural ties. But there are plenty of others after rich pickings too (SOUNDBITE) (English): DARREN SINDEN, INDEPENDENT MARKET ANALYST, SAYING: "It's a country of around 70 - 80 million people - GDP, the last numbers I saw, was $425 billion per annum, that's expected to grow to around $550 billion by 2020." But integration may not be easy. As the German delegation found out on day two of their visit. Iran's parliamentary speaker cancelled talks with Gabriel after he stressed the need for reform in the Islamic Republic.