Spring 2018 Update

Following the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, Us Departments and Agencies implemented 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods for various activities involving Iran.

The 180-day wind-down period, which covered the shipping, finance and insurance sectors in addition to petroleum-related transactions, ended on November 4, 2018. All remaining sanctions that had been lifted or waived by the US pursuant to the JCPOA came back into full effect on November 5, 2018. In August 2018, President Donald Trump announced that companies doing business in Iran would also be barred from trading with the US. Waivers to such secondary sanctions have been granted to a select group of countries to allow them to temporarily continue to import crude oil from Iran without penalty, however, the Iranian economy is predicted to experience a downward trajectory as oil exports fall.

The lifting of sanctions under JCPOA has generated economic growth in Iran (mainly due to increased oil revenues), making the country a promising emerging market for Victorian goods and services. In the 2017-18 financial year, Victorian merchandise exports to Iran jumped to AU$99.7M from AU$25M in 2016-2017 and AU$18M in 2015-2016. Australia continues to fully implement the United Nations Security Council sanctions regime in relation to Iran and suspended certain autonomous sanctions in January 2016. Australia’s sanctions regime remains unaffected by the US decision to withdraw from the JCPOA.  Victorian businesses are advised to seek private legal advice on the impact of US sanctions on their specific interests.

Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran agreed in September 2018 to establish a financial vehicle in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iranian imports and exports. EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, also stated that the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) may be open to other international partners, however, registration of the vehicle and details of its location and participants are yet to be finalised. Once operationalised, such a vehicle could facilitate the export of Victorian products and services in a range of key sectors including agriculture, mining, education, healthcare and ICT.

Expo 2020 Dubai: upcoming tenders

The focus for Expo 2020 Dubai procurement activities is shifting from construction and design to operations and visitor experience-related services. Over the next six to twelve months, Expo 2020 Dubai will procure a range of products and services related to content and programming (commissioned artwork, logistics, technical production, stage production, talent booking), hospitality, food retail, ceremonies production, event operations (contact centre, fleet management, guest services, uniforms), security (CCTV, scanners), waste management and ICT (software systems and platforms, systems integration, ticketing), protocol services, marketing and public relations.

Expo 2020 Dubai is actively seeking the participation of foreign (non-Emirati) companies and SMEs in the provision of these products and services. Any Expo 2020 contract worth over 1 million Emirati Dirhams is open to companies based anywhere in the world. For SMEs, Expo 2020 Dubai is offering incentives such as higher advanced payments (25 per cent for services and 50 per cent for goods and materials), shorter payment periods (30 days from receipt of an approved invoice) and waivers removing obligations to provide advance payment guarantees and tender bonds.

Victorian companies with experience in the delivery of major events are well placed to provide services to the Expo and are encouraged to register on the Expo 2020 Dubai e-Sourcing Portal.
As reported in the Autumn 2018 update, the Australian Government has confirmed that it will participate in Expo 2020. Opportunities to supply the Australian Government will be advertised on Austender.

Expo Live Innovation Impact Grant Programme: final cycle now open

Applications for the fourth and final cycle of the Expo Live Innovation Impact Grant Programme close on 2 December 2018. The Programme awards grants of up to US$100,000 (of an allocated US$100 million) to innovators with creative solutions to challenges faced by communities and/or the environment and is open to individual entrepreneurs, SMEs, non-profit organisations and government entities. Expo Live is looking for projects that are already having an impact but need support to reach their full potential. Successful projects will be showcased in the lead-up to Expo 2020 Dubai, providing Victorian innovators with the opportunity to showcase their products on the international stage.

Seventy innovators from 42 countries have been awarded grants thus far. Successful projects can be viewed on the Expo Live website and include fintech, agritech and medtech solutions.

Syria

The Nassib border crossing between Jordan and Syria reopened to people and goods in October following the Syrian Government’s retaking control of the area in July. The crossing lies on a transit route used previously by hundreds of trucks each day to transport goods between Turkey and Lebanon and the countries of the Gulf. Its reopening will facilitate the transport of goods to markets across the region at a much-reduced cost. The opening is also expected to increase tourism in the region as overland travel agencies recommence operation.

Israel also opened the Quneitra crossing in October, four years after its closure. For the time being, the crossing can only be used by United Nations Disengagement Observer Force personnel.

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