There once were times when we would not trad with countries because of their human rights abuses.
Iran: 70 million people, closed off to the world — until two months ago.
Now its foreign minister says it could have the help Kiwi farmers are crying out for — a mega trade boost.
“I think there are no ceilings. We can go up,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
Zarif was talking up Iran’s renewed trade relationship with New Zealand, saying it could reach up to $1 billion a year.
“Could we get to $1 billion a year with the trade going into Iran? Is that possible? I don’t see why not. I believe that it can even get beyond that,” he said.
Iran was one of New Zealand’s top five export markets, earning around $300 million.
However trade sanctions meant major cutbacks — down to $163 million in 2014 and just $90 million last year.
Now Iran’s dropped its nuclear plans, the sanctions are gone — and the Iranian minister is saying now is the time to pounce.
“We can do joint venture projects on petrochemicals, on science and technology, on agriculture, on geothermal — a whole range of areas where we can do business — and also in dairy products and in beef products,” Zarif said.
With many dairy farmers in big trouble, that’s good news — but there are options for beef and lamb farmers too.
It wants live exports, which have been controversial with nearby Saudi Arabia.
“[Live sheep and cattle exports from New Zealand] are some of the possibilities — not the only possibility — in our relationship,” he said.
So while there are big questions around Iran’s commitment to the nuclear deal and its human rights record, when it comes to trade they’re a tempting proposition for a Government that needs to help Kiwi farmers.