International consultancies are making plans to target Iran’s construction market amid ongoing talks to mend ties between Tehran and the West, executives told Big Project ME magazine.
There has been a steady stream of business delegations visiting Iran following the April agreement of a framework for a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers including the United States and China.
Political talks are accelerating ahead of the June 30 deadline for an agreement, which would likely result in the lifting of sanctions.
The global construction industry has been keeping a close eye on the developments, with firms telling Big Project ME they are keen to take advantage of the situation should sanctions be lifted.
“We’ve already had internal conversations about both Iran and Cuba, as markets that are going to open up, and we’re ideally positioned to enter into both markets,” said David Richter, the CEO of Hill International, a US-based construction consultancy specialising in project- and risk-management.
Hill International set up shop in Libya prior to the outbreak of civil war in the North African country. Richter pointed to valuable lessons learnt from that experience, which he said would put Hill in good position for any expansion into Iran.
“Our early success in Libya is a good indicator of what happens once a country opens up to US companies doing business there. We can move in very quickly there to establish our name, build a local team and start to win work very quickly. I think that will be true in Iran if that’s the next country to open up, or Cuba or anywhere else,” he said in an exclusive interview with Big Project ME.
Tom Bower, the managing director of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Middle East, said his firm was constantly looking for expansion opportunities across the Middle East, and that Iran was certainly of interest.
“With the changes that are happening with Iran, that’s going to be an opportunity… Previously, due to the various sanctions that have been in place, we’ve not been able to operate in Iran, so we’re going to be watching it closely to see what happens and how that market develops,” he said.
South Korea has in recent years been the foreign country most involved in Iran’s construction market. Two multinational firms, Hyundai E&C and Daelim, opened offices in Tehran before the South Korean finance ministry lifted the majority of its sanctions in March 2014, a report by globalconstructionreview.com said.
Iran’s construction market was worth $89 billion in 2013, according to the International Contractors Association of Korea. Even if sanctions had not been relaxed, the association predicted that by 2016, that figure would reach $154 billion.
Big Project ME