Nevertheless, the inroads made by Western businesses in the past three years are visible all along the clogged roads of the Iranian capital.
Bosch, the German home appliances producer, wants Iranians to buy their dishwashers, enormous billboards show. The logo of ABB Global, a Swedish-Swiss conglomerate active in everything from robotics to electric power, is plastered on the side of a building. Signs hawk Barbican nonalcoholic beer, from Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional enemy.
Many of these ventures, particularly those involving high-profile companies with ties to or extensive operations in the United States, are now imperiled. Two major oil companies, Total of France and Eni of Italy, are leaving development projects. The Danish shipping companies TORM and Maersk will no longer call on Iranian ports. An Italian steel maker, Danieli, which a year ago opened a big factory near Tehran, will have to sell its shares and pull out.
Procter & Gamble, the American consumer goods giant, which was already selling products like Head and Shoulders shampoo and Braun shavers, is laying off all local staff, employees say, and heading for the exits.
But the decision is not so clear cut for numerous other companies, mostly European and Asian, that sell products that are not under sanctions — soft drinks, chocolate bars, clothes, medical equipment and medicine, for instance. Debenhams, the British department store, has franchises in Tehran, as does Adidas, the German sports apparel company. Peugeot and Renault of France sell cars here. Scania, the Swedish company, sells trucks and buses.