| BOULOGNE-BILLANCOURT, France
BOULOGNE-BILLANCOURT, France Jan 29 Renault
has resumed shipments to Iran and expects its car
production in the country to pick up progressively throughout
the first half of 2014, the French automaker said.
A temporary easing of sanctions has begun to allow a "very
low" volume of parts shipments for vehicle assembly in Iran,
Renault's regional boss Gilles Normand told Reuters in an
interview late on Tuesday.
"The important thing is that we can gradually restart the
supply of parts for vehicle production as well as the flow of
payments," said Normand, head of the carmaker's Asia-Pacific
operations, which include the Middle East.
"There's a window of opportunity for the next six months."
Overland shipments of parts for the Tondar model, an Iranian
version of Renault's low-cost Logan car, have been leaving from
Romania in the last 10 days after a six-month hiatus caused by
last year's further tightening of sanctions.
Production by Iran's domestic car industry, unusually
developed for the Middle East, peaked at 1.6 million cars in
2011, the year crippling new sanctions were introduced.
Renault and French rival PSA Peugeot Citroen are
keen to resume Iranian vehicle assembly and sales with local
partners Iran Khodro and Pars Khodro, to rebuild the significant
market position they enjoyed before sanctions were tightened.
In return for Tehran's pledge to freeze key parts of its
nuclear programme, the so-called P5+1 powers agreed in November
to a six-month lifting of sanctions on selected goods including
car parts. The easing is only now beginning to take effect.
"If Iranian consumers see no change, they will think the
country has been short-changed," the Renault executive said.
"So I think it's understood that things must be allowed to
improve visibly in Iran - and that's where the government will
get a legitimate mandate to reach a (final) deal."
International talks are expected to begin next month in New
York on a permanent deal to wind down sanctions in return for
curbs on Iran's nuclear programme.