WHILE some forwarders expect Iran to offer a demand boost, and many are gearing to go, most are taking a wait-and-see attitude.
That's because while European and UN sanctions that have crippled trade for so long may have been lifted in the wake of the nuclear deal, the Americans have only lifted a few sanctions, leaving most in place, reports Lloyd's Loading List.
What's more, any company that does any business with the US, faces major problems if found to be trading with Iran, said a spokesman for Hong Kong's Kerry Logistics, whose firm is raring to go.
American law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom says the Atomic Energy Agency has verified that Iran had complied with expected nuclear-related undertakings that would provide phased sanctions relief, but understanding what phased relief actually means is critical for doing business in Iran.
The lawyers said that there was now substantial divergence between US and EU sanctions regimes for Iran.
The EU has suspended nearly all economic and nuclear sanctions, but the US relief focuses mainly on measures that target foreign banks and other foreign companies that engage in certain activities involving Iran.
"The comprehensive US embargo against Iran remains largely in place and, with very limited exceptions, US persons remain prohibited from doing business with Iran or the Iranian government," the Skadden lawyers said.
Panalpina already offers regular air, ocean and road services to Iran, having prepared for the lifting of sanctions for the last two years.
"Commodities vary from telecom to automotive and oil and gas equipment as well as aerospace," said a company spokesman.
"The facilities in Iran can handle the current growing demand and there are plans in place to improve the infrastructure going forward. We expect a gradual increase of traffic, and not a surge overnight," he said.
Middle East based Aramex has been operating in Iran for 10 years and employs around 150 professionals there.
"We are continually evaluating the situation and how the environment is developing in Iran in light of the sanctions being lifted," said Aramex air freight director Chadi Fares.
Said Hong Kong's Kerry Logistics Euro chief Thomas Blank: "It's the biggest market opportunity to have emerged in the past decade or so.
"The removal of the sanctions is something people have been waiting for many years, and it's going to have a big impact on exports from Germany and China to Iran, because for the past 30 years, capital investment [in the country] has been close to zero," he said.
The US imposed sanctions in 1979, following the so-called 'Islamic Revolution" in the country, and expanded them in 1995 to include companies dealing with Iran.
"The interesting part is that only a few forwarders have been dealing with Iran until now. This means there will be a similar starting point for us all, and therefore a real race to land business. Kerry Logistics has a plan for Iran and we are determined to be there," Mr Blank said.