EghtesadOnline: Trade between Iran and EU member states during the first half of 2019 stood at €2.56 billion to register a 76.01% plunge compared with last year’s corresponding period.
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were Iran’s top three trading partners in the European bloc with bilateral exchanges standing at €777.32 million, €451.63 million and €260.82 million respectively.
Iran’s trade with Latvia (€1.63 million), Germany (€777.32 million) and Romania (77.18 million) increased by 475%, 278% and 177% respectively year-on-year, which were the highest among EU states.
Trade with Malta (€147,233), Slovakia (€2.36 million), Greece (€21.63 million), Portugal (€6.14 million) and Finland (€16.32 million) saw the sharpest declines of 99.96%, 99.04%, 97.79%, 96.85% and 96.45% respectively, according to Financial Tribune.
Eurostat (European Statistical Office) is a directorate of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide statistical information to EU institutions and promote the harmonization of statistical methods across its member states and candidates for accession.
The organizations in different countries that cooperate with Eurostat are summarized under the concept of the European Statistical System.
Exports Decline 93.15%
Iran exported €418.31 million worth of commodities to the EU during the six-month period, indicating a 93.15% fall compared with the similar period of the previous year.
The country’s main export destinations over the period were Germany (€99.64 million), Italy (€94.51 million), Belgium (€75.37 million), Spain (€33.55 million) and Romania (€22.38 million).
Iran’s exports to Latvia, Estonia and Belgium experienced the highest year-on-year growth rates of 517%, 241% and 34.41% respectively.
This is while exports to Greece, France and Spain fell by 99.1%, 99.1% and 97.28% YOY respectively, which are the sharpest among EU member states.
The exported goods mainly included plastic and plastic products worth €116.72 million; edible fruits and nuts, zest of citrus fruit or melons worth €62.94 million; iron and steel worth €56.52 million; coffee, tea and spices worth €22.13 million; pharmaceutical products worth €17.9 million; carpet and other textile floorings worth €16.98 million; products of animal origin worth €14.04 million; articles of iron and steel valued at €14.15 million; lac, gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts worth €10.47 million.
Imports Fall 53%
Imports from the EU dropped by 53.13% to stand at €2.14 billion during the six months under review.
The top five exporters from the European bloc to Iran were Germany with €677.68 million, Italy with €357.11 million, the Netherlands with €252.02 million, France with €167.94 million and Belgium with €113.65 million worth of shipments to Iran.
Italy with €357.117 million, Germany with €677.68 million, Romania with €54.8 were EU countries whose exports to Iran saw the highest YOY growths (5,561%, 2,114% and 845% respectively).
Malta with €119,439, Slovakia with €908,544 and Portugal with €5.82 million experienced the sharpest YOY decline in exports to Iran (99.97%, 99.62% and 96.99% respectively).
The imports mainly included nuclear reactor parts, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances and parts worth €513.34 million; pharmaceutical products worth €320.37 million; optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments and apparatus worth €271.82 million; cereals worth €131.18 million; and electrical machinery and equipment, sound recorders and reproducers, television image and sound recorders and reproducers and parts and accessories thereof worth €98.59 million.
Other imported products included organic chemicals worth €73.39 million; plastics and plastic articles worth €54.98 million; miscellaneous chemical products worth €54.03 million; oilseeds and oleaginous fruits; miscellaneous grains, seeds and fruit; industrial or medicinal plants; straw and fodder worth €46.68 million; essential oils and resinoids, perfumery, cosmetic and toilet preparations worth €44.96 million; paper, paperboard and paper pulp worth €36.2 million; and tanning or dyeing extracts; tannins and their derivatives; dyes, pigments and other coloring matter; paints and varnishes; putty and other mastics; and inks worth €31.06 million.
INSTEX Remains Up in the Air
European efforts to launch a payments channel to facilitate trade with Iran suffered a fresh setback earlier this month when the German former diplomat who was set to take over as the new chief of INSTEX was forced to pull out at the last moment.
The move by Bernd Erbel, 72, a former ambassador to Tehran, followed revelations in the German daily Bild of a recent YouTube interview in which the designated INSTEX chief voiced sympathy for Iran along with pointed criticism of Israel, the Financial Times reported.
Among other things, he said that Israel was “more than ever an alien body” in the Middle East.
The German Foreign Ministry said Erbel, who was presented as the new head of INSTEX only last month, would not take on the role after all: “Mr Erbel has informed the foreign ministry that he will not be available for personal reasons.”
Erbel was announced as the new chief of INSTEX in July. A Middle East expert, he served as ambassador to Iraq, Egypt and Iran between 2004 and 2013.
INSTEX was launched in January as part of a broader effort by Germany, France and Britain—the so-called E3—to preserve the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran after the US abandoned the deal last year.
The new body is supposed to help companies in Iran and Europe maintain trade flows in defiance of the US threat of sanctions, by offering a payments channel that is not subject to US penalties.
However, INSTEX has been beset by delays and bureaucratic hurdles, most of which are linked to complications caused by the US sanctions.
The sudden reversal of Erbel´s appointment will do little to dispel skepticism that INSTEX is unlikely to deliver major economic benefits for Iran and is little more than a symbol of European resistance to the US policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran.
The financial channel began to process its first transactions only in June after months of wrangling over how it would work and where it would be based.
It has not disclosed the nature or value of its deals so far, although it has said it will initially focus on humanitarian goods such as food and medicines that are not subject to US sanctions.