EghtesadOnline: Iran’s trade with 28 member states of the European Union during the first seven months of 2018 amounted to more than €10.2 billion, indicating a 7.95% decrease compared with last year’s corresponding period.
Iran’s top five trade partners over the period were Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Greece with more than €2.55 billion, €1.6 billion, €1.52 billion, €1.39 billion and €976.3 million worth of exchanges respectively.
Trade with Croatia (€62.84 million), Hungary (€75.13 million) Latvia (€6.19 million), Spain (€1.52 billion) and Greece (€976.3 million) saw the highest increase of 1,779%, 237.04%, 196.03%, 60.36% and 24.64% respectively.
Iran’s sharpest trade decline was recorded with Cyprus (66.99%), Bulgaria (62.5%), Portugal (62.38%), the Netherlands (45.32%) and Malta (41.03%), according to Financial Tribune.
Iran exported more than €5.87 billion worth of commodities to EU member states during the period, which indicates a 5.44% growth compared with the similar period of the preceding year, according to Eurostat data shared with Financial Tribune.
The main export destinations were Italy with over €1.77 billion, Spain with €1.23 billion, France with €1.14 billion, Greece with €963 million and Germany with €174.27 million worth of imports.
Iran’s exports to Croatia, Hungary and Luxembourg experienced the highest year-on-year rise of 16,921%, 4,487% and 1192% respectively.
This is while exports to the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Cyprus saw the sharpest decline of close to 93.39%, 60.2% and 31.12% respectively year-on-year.
The main exported commodities included mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation, bituminous substances and mineral waxes (€4.9 billion), edible fruit and nuts, zest of citrus fruit or melons (€148.77 million), iron and steel (€115.68 million), plastics and articles thereof (€104.03 million), coffee, tea and spices (€39.86 million), organic chemicals (€38.11 million), products of animal origin (€24,5 million), nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances and parts (€23.19 million), carpets and other floor coverings (€20.03) million), as well as lac, gums, resins, vegetable saps and extracts (€19.18 million).
As for Iran's imports from the EU during the seven months, the volume decreased by 21.48% YOY to stand at more than €4.32 billion.
The top five European exporters to Iran were Germany with €1.22 billion, Italy with €776.84 million, France with €458.7 million, the Netherlands with €336.98 million and Spain with €293.84 million worth of exports.
Iran’s imports from Latvia, Spain and Sweden saw the highest YOY increase of 219.55%, 34.36% and 25.06% respectively, whereas those from Cyprus, Malta and Portugal experienced the sharpest YOY decline of 68.61%, 67.63% and 65.3% respectively.
The imported products mainly included nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances and parts (€1.42 billion), vehicles other than rail or tramway rolling stock and parts and accessories thereof (€404.21 million), electrical machinery and equipment, sound recorders and reproducers, television image and sound recorders and reproducers and parts (€384.56 million), pharmaceutical products (€314.38 million), optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments and apparatus (€310.04 million).
Articles of iron or steel (€173.98 million), miscellaneous chemical products (€123.26 million), plastics and plastic articles (€106.17 million), essential oils and resinoids, perfumes, cosmetics and toiletries (€83.12 million) and organic chemicals (€70.16 million) constituted other main import commodities.
> EU Seeking Ways to Maintain Iran Trade
Iran-EU trade has seen a steady uptrend since the nuclear deal was signed between Tehran and world powers (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in 2015 and its implementation a year later. However, since mid-2018, this trend has veered off the opposite direction.
America's allies in Europe are seeking ways to bypass US President Donald Trump's sanctions on Iran, as they work to maintain trade ties with the Islamic Republic by keeping the nuclear deal alive without the United States.
With a second round of US sanctions set to take effect on November 5, European officials are working at cross-purposes with Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign, as they try to preserve as much business as possible with Iran. The goal is to persuade Iranian leaders to stay in the deal for a few more years—perhaps long enough for Trump to be replaced and for a new US president to rejoin the deal, NBC News reported.
Among the creative workarounds under discussion in Brussels and other capitals: Devising an alternative—free from US influence—to the current electronic system used to transfer money from place to place, European officials told NBC News.
And since commercial banks must stop handling transactions with Iran or face US penalties, European countries are considering using their own central banks to transfer funds to Iran, wagering that Trump would not go so far as to sanction an ally's central bank.
The Trump administration is working to foil the Europeans, threatening to sanction anyone—from American bank executives to small foreign companies—who do not comply. Caught in the middle are foreign companies that must choose between flouting the Trump administration or their own governments.
In the last few weeks, US diplomats in Europe have started working to help local companies that do business with Iran find new markets and business opportunities to offset their losses, a senior Trump administration official said, describing a program that has not been made public.
The official said that the US Commercial Service—diplomats who work abroad for the Commerce Department—have been holding seminars and reaching out to business groups to find ways to help small- and medium-sized businesses find alternatives to Iran.
The looming sanctions have become the latest flashpoint between the Trump administration and European allies, particularly the three that brokered the nuclear deal with the Obama administration in 2015: France, Germany and the UK. Those tensions are exacerbated by Trump's trade war with China, trans-Atlantic economic conflict and intermittent hostility toward NATO.