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Trump walking away from the Iran nuclear deal hurt American businesses

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President Donald Trump
President
Donald Trump holds up a memorandum that reinstates sanctions on
Iran after he announced his decision to withdraw the United
States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.


Chip
Somodevilla/Getty Images



  • Before 2015, Iran was under US sanctions, which meant
    trade between the two countries
    was limited. 
  • But the Iran
    nuclear deal
    created an opening — a rare chance for
    American businesses to sell to Iranians.
  • A market of 80 million people mostly cut off from
    Western products for decades was suddenly opened. Boeing signed
    a $16.6 billion deal that it predicted would support
    100,000 jobs in the
    US.

  • That all fell apart when
    Donald
    Trump
    was elected into office and walked away from the
    nuclear deal, which he considered “a bad
    deal.” 

When the US, Iran, and a group of world powers hashed out the
Iran nuclear deal in 2015, Abdolreza Kamyab was one happy man.

“It helped my business, and I was able to export more product to
the country,” he said. 

Kamyab owns ImEx Gulf, a small exporting
company based in Plano, Texas, which specializes in food and
supplements for livestock.

Originally from Iran, Kamyab came to the US in the 1980s to study
animal nutrition at the University of Missouri. When he went back
to Iran, he noticed a shortage of quality animal feed. So, he
decided to return to the US and start ImEx Gulf. He buys American
supplements and ships them to Iran.

“[It was a way to] help both [the] US economy and at the
same time, Iranian producers,” he said. 

Before 2015, Iran was under US sanctions. That meant trade
between the two countries was limited. Kamyab had to get a
special permit to ship his products to Iran.

But the deal created an opening — a rare chance for American
businesses to sell to Iranians. And for Iranians to buy American
products.

All of the sudden, Kamyab didn’t have to jump through as many
hoops.


Read more: JOHN
KERRY: Trump ‘really just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
He makes things up.’

“I didn’t need to renew my license required by the Department of
[the] Treasury here in the United States if I wanted to export
agricultural products to Iran,” he said. 

There were also more shipping companies willing to go to Iran, he
says, so he had more options. The price of shipping went
down.

Roozbeh Aliabadi, a business consultant with Global Growth
Advisors
, says after 2015, he saw a spike in American
companies looking to invest in Iran.

“The real outcome from the nuclear deal was many companies wanted
to actually capture this big market, this 80
million market,” he said. 


Trump Sanctions Iranian clerric mural
An
Iranian clerric walks past a mural on the wall of the former U.S.
embassy


Majid
Saeedi/Getty Images



A market of 80 million people mostly cut off from Western
products for decades. He was contacted by companies
that sell everything from potato chips to solar panels
to water purification systems.

“It was a race for them to capture this market,” he said. 

And his advice? “Go to Iran, take baby steps, develop
partnerships; it will take time but it is a good market for
you.”

The biggest business deal of all was the one signed by Boeing,
according to Dina Esfandiary, a fellow at The
Century Foundation
 and an international security fellow
at Harvard University.

“It was a massive deal. They were […] going to supply the
main Iranian carrier, Iran Air, with a whole new fleet of planes,
which of course, was needed in Iran. So, this was very, very
significant and very important to Iran,” she said. 

The order was for 110 aircraft, with the possibility of
30 more in the long run.

The price tag? An estimated $16.6
billion
. Boeing predicted the order would support
100,000 jobs
 in the US.


General Electric
 jumped in, too, announcing a $150
million deal for oil and natural gas equipment.

And then, Donald Trump was elected into office. He promised
to walk away from the nuclear deal, which he considered “a bad
deal.” And he did. The US reimposed sanctions on Iran
earlier this month.

“When Trump took office, everything went backwards,”
said Kamyab, the Texas business owner. The sanctions partly
target the Iranian banking and shipping sectors.

“When the shipping company [doesn’t] go [to Iran] because of
the sanctions and the money cannot be transferred to the United
States, how can I do business? How can anyone do business?”
Kamyab raised.

So, for now, he has stopped all shipments to Iran. He
is waiting to see what happens.

“What happened is actually every business’s nightmare scenario,”
said Esfandiary of The Century Foundation. “Because if you
tell a business, ‘OK, you’re fine to go; go on, there’s no
risk now to go deal with Iran,’ but you leave the
uncertainty. And then a couple of years later you tell them, “OK,
wait, you can’t do any business with Iran
anymore” — that’s exactly what businesses try to
avoid.”

And that’s why Boeing and GE quickly ended their contracts. They
said they follow the US government’s policies on Iran.

The Trump administration says the point of these sanctions is to
punish the Iranian government. But, Kamyab says
they’re actually punishing business owners like him.

“My business is related to animal production. I don’t believe
stopping me from working is going to have [an] effect on Iranian
government’s behavior.”

And he doesn’t think the sanctions will hurt government
officials.

“They always find a way to have the best items on their table for
lunch and dinner and breakfast,” he said. “Look at them. You
don’t see any of them to be thin.”

The ones who will suffer the most, he says, are the Iranian
people.

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