Chinese President Xi Jinping with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: AFP

As European companies react with trepidation to the Trump administration’s efforts to blow up the Iran nuclear deal, pulling out of business deals in the face of looming sanctions, Chinese and Russian firms wait in the wings.

The Wall Street Journal took stock of some shifting sands in Iran’s landscape on Monday.

  • Earlier this month, Chinese state oil giant Sinopec finalized a US$3 billion deal to develop an Iranian oil field previously coveted by Royal Dutch Shell. The British firm dropped negotiations on the deal in March, amid fears of a sanctions redux.
  • China National Petroleum Corp may step in to snatch up French energy company Total’s US$1 billion share of the South Pars natural-gas development project. CNPC is currently a partner with Total’s partner in the project.
  • Chinese firms already have long-standing investment relationships with Iranian firms in areas ranging from transportation to clothing, cookware and consumer electronics.
  • Meanwhile, Russia has cautiously cultivated business ties business ties in Iran. Last year, Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft, agreed to US$30 billion in strategic deals in the sanctions-battered nation. Though few details have been confirmed.

Summit in Shanghai to bolster ties
As Iran braces for the impact of restrictions that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said would be the “strongest sanctions in history,” the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani will make a trip to Qingdao, China for a powwow with leaders that hope to minimize the pain.

The meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – in which Iran holds an observer member status – will take place in mid-June and is expected to focus on avoiding disruptions in joint projects. The official announcement said that President Rouhani will make a working visit and participate in the SCO summit.

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