Well, if things keep improving, it seems that Iran could well be THE headline market maker in 2016. The potential in the country is massive of course, and with the lessening of sanctions, and the expected in-flow of investment, glass makers (and therefore those that equip them) can look forward to a bright future.
Pharmaceutical packaging, for example, is expected to be one such boom area. To reinforce this, news has broken that Novo Nordisk is to become the first western pharmaceuticals company to build a manufacturing plant in Iran, in a sign of confidence in the country’s economy.
The Danish drugmaker said it would invest €70m in a facility to make insulin pens for local use, creating 160 jobs and increasing the company’s access to the about 5m Iranians with diabetes.
The agreement comes less than three months after Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for the eventual lifting of international sanctions, potentially opening the way for more foreign investment in the country.
Ole Moelskov Bech, head of Novo Nordisk in the near east region, said the nuclear deal was not a “determining factor” in the investment but it had made the decision “a lot simpler”.
Medicines are exempted from the sanctions for humanitarian reasons, meaning that Novo Nordisk could have built a factory even without the nuclear deal provided it did not export the products made there.
But Mr Bech said sanctions had made it increasingly hard to operate in Iran, citing the difficulty of conducting financial transactions and the need to isolate IT systems from the rest of the company’s network.
Novo Nordisk has been manufacturing in Iran through a local partner since 2002, but it would be the first among its “big pharma” peers to set up its own factory. Mr Bech said it would take four to five years to start production.
Trade delegations from Germany and France have visited Iran in recent weeks to explore investment opportunities in a market of 77m-plus people. US companies have been more reticent as the nuclear deal has faced resistance from Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Novo Nordisk, the world’s biggest maker of insulin, serves about 700,000 Iranian diabetics through its existing manufacturing partnership and Mr Bech said the new investment would cement its long-term commitment. “It has been very, very difficult since the clampdown on financial transactions but we decided to stay because we didn’t want to abandon the patients.”