WASHINGTON — While President Obama struggles to negotiate United Nations sanctions with teeth against Iran, a parallel campaign to turn up the heat is gaining momentum by pressuring American and foreign corporations individually to cut their business ties there.
Two giant American accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young, disclosed this week that they no longer had any affiliation with Iranian firms, becoming the latest in a string of companies to publicly shun the Islamic republic. After a similar decision by KPMG this month, that leaves none of the Big Four audit firms with any ties to Iran.
In recent months, other companies have announced that they would stop sales, cut back business or end affiliations with Iranian firms, including General Electric, Huntsman, Siemens, Caterpillar and Ingersoll Rand. Daimler said it would sell a minority share in an Iranian engine maker. An Italian firm said it would pull out after its current gas contracts ended. And the Malaysian state oil company cut off gasoline shipments to Iran, following similar moves by Royal Dutch Shell and trading giants like Vitol, Glencore and Trafigura.
The tangible impact of these moves varies depending on the firm. After three decades of sanctions, American companies have relatively little business in Iran at this point, while foreign and multinational companies often find ways to circumvent measures intended to sever ties with Iran. China has become an increa… >>>