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Doing Business in Iran: The French Connection

Farsi, or Persian, is my mother tongue. Like English, Farsi has taken a large amount of loan words from the French language, despite being structurally different from it.    

Growing up in Iran, I was fortunate enough to attend a school that immersed me in French from the moment I arrived. I advanced in my academics and was preparing for the entrance exam to university when the Iranian revolution began to unfold. It was a rude awakening when I saw the headline: “Islamic Regime Closes All Universities Indefinitely For ‘Cultural Cleansing’.” I would not be able to attend class. I was crestfallen and full of anxiety about my future, so I decided to use my French and attended school in Lyon, France.

France is a beautiful country, but for some reason I never grew to love it. I came to America — without knowing a word of English. Fortunately, so much of English vocabulary comes from French thanks to the Normans. At San Diego State University, I remember going to the reference section in the library and flipping through the oversized pages of a French-English translation dictionary — and suddenly it all “clicked.” That was when my English started to take on a life of its own.

Meanwhile back home, the Republic began the business of daily governance. The regime never lost the desire to do business with the outside world. With the US and Great Britain fundamentally opposed to any kind of engagement, Iranians trained their eyes on France’s markets. With this French presence in Iran already in place, the partial easing of sanctions in 2015 was welcomed.  

One new initiative that seeks to bypass existing sanctions and expand the trade network between Iran and France is being started by BPI France Group. BPI is a public investment bank backed by the French state. According to BPI CEO Nicolas Dufourcq:

The plan is to offer dedicated, euro-denominated export guarantees to Iranian buyers of French goods and services. By structuring the financing through vehicles without any U.S. link, whether to the currency or otherwise, the aim is to avoid the extraterritorial reach of U.S. legislation.

BPI’s initiative is just one of the many business relationships between France and Iran that have begun to flourish. In order to communicate not just with words but the language, a native speaker is indispensable. To learn more about how the Farsi Language Center can make the difference between a tepid proposal and a knock-out presentation, contact us.

Sepideh Moussavi, MSSepideh Moussavi, MS

Farsi Language Center
(212) 304- 4400

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