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Iran’s Top Automaker Looks To Secure Russian Investments

  • Western producers and investors are pulling the plug on Iran due to U.S. sanctions. 
  • Iran’s top carmaker is aiming to secure a piece of the Russian market.
  • "The Russian market, with its capacities, will be one of our important markets," Iran Khodro CEO Mehdi Khatibi said.

Iran's leading automaker is seeking to grab a share of the Russian market after Western producers halted output or exited the market following sanctions.

Iran Khodro CEO Mehdi Khatibi made the announcement on August 14 as he unveiled the company's latest model -- the crossover Rira.

"We are going to pay special attention to the Russian market, and we are also thinking of partnering with Russian investors," he said.

"The Russian market, with its capacities, will be one of our important markets," Khatibi added.

Iran Khodro will begin exporting to Russia this year, he said.

Khatibi said he had been in negotiations "with Moscow," but he did not clarify whether the talks just revolved around exports or also included possible local production.

Iran Khodro had briefly exported cars to Russia during the 2000s, according to Iranian media.

Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Iran in July to meet his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Moscow is seeking to enhance economic ties with Tehran after the West imposed punishing sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Iran is also under wide-ranging Western sanctions.

Russian auto production has plummeted since the imposition of sanctions, because manufacturers can no longer import microprocessors and other parts needed for final assembly.

Related: Goldman Sees $5 Gasoline, $130 Brent By Year End

Several Western and Asian companies have idled their Russian plants for the time being while some have announced they are permanently leaving the market.

Exports of Western cars to Russia have also sunk sharply.

Khatibi did not say how many cars he expects to export this year to Russia.

While the exit of Western models opens a door for Iran Khodro, Russia's economy is expected to contract sharply in the coming years, hurting demand for big-ticket items like cars.

By RFE/RL

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