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EghtesadOnline: China remains the top customer of Iran’s oil and non-oil goods in 2018, said a spokesperson with China’s General Administration of Customs.

Iran-China trade saw a 1.8% growth during the nine months of 2018 to reach 189.16 billion yuan ($29.1 billion). 

China’s exports to Iran stood at 76.18 billion yuan ($11.72 billion), indicating a 16.3% decline year-on-year while imports from Iran hovered around 112.98 billion yuan ($17.38 billion), about 19.1% more than in last year’s corresponding period, IRNA also quoted Li Kuiwen as saying. 

Noting that economic ties between the two countries will improve despite the domestic laws of a third country, the Chinese official noted that United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will have no effect on economic relations between Iran and China, according to Financial Tribune.

On May 8, Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and unilaterally reimposed sanctions on the country, despite the opposition of the deal’s five cosponsors—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

China’s adeptness at doing business with Iran through state-owned companies not exposed to the American financial systems is expected to make Beijing the biggest beneficiary of Trump’s move to withdraw from JCPOA. 

“The dynamics of the US withdrawing from the [nuclear] deal and leaving European sides scrambling to protect their business interests has led to Iran reaching out to China and encouraging it to commit to investing,” said Ahmad Majidyar, an Iran analyst with the Washington-based Middle East Institute, the Washington Times wrote in an article.

“China is looking to fill the void left by departing companies. But they face a dilemma: How will they maneuver around what new sanctions or conditions emerge? That remains to be seen.”

Carleton Greene, a former high-level sanctions official in the US Treasury Department, says it is “entirely plausible that China could benefit from a reduction in competition from European companies fleeing business opportunities in Iran because of the threat of reimposed sanctions.”

China has defended its commercial relations with Iran as open and transparent, as US sanctions on Iran have taken effect despite pleas from Washington’s allies.

Chinese Foreign Ministry said in August that China’s business and energy ties with Iran do not harm the interests of any other country after US President Donald Trump said companies doing business with Iran would be barred from the United States.

In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its opposition to unilateral sanctions and “long-armed jurisdiction”.

“For a long time, China and Iran have had open, transparent and normal commercial cooperation in the fields of business, trade and energy, which is reasonable, fair and lawful,” it was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“This does not violate United Nations Security Council resolutions or China’s promised international obligations, nor does it harm the interests of any other country, and should be respected and protected,” the ministry added.

Using sanctions at the slightest pretext or to threaten anyone won’t resolve the problem. Only dialogue and negotiations are the true path to resolving the issue, the ministry added, referring to recent tensions escalating between Iran and the United States.

Hua Liming, former Chinese ambassador to Iran, has told Global Times that Chinese firms can bypass the blockade by expanding renminbi payments, a trend in staple products that was already undertaken in China-Iran trade before the sanctions.


Iran Trade With China