EghtesadOnline: Trade between Iran and EU member states during the first 11 months of 2019 stood at €4.73 billion to register a 73.45% plunge compared with last year’s corresponding period, latest data released by the European Statistical Office show.
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were Iran’s top three trading partners in the European bloc with bilateral exchanges standing at €1.52 billion, €889.15 million and €468.13 million respectively, according to Financial Tribune.
Iran’s trade with Cyprus (€7.62 million) and Bulgaria (€86.88 million) increased by 65.18% and 34.67% respectively year-on-year—the highest among EU states.
Trade with Greece (€36.65 million), Spain (€269.84), Luxembourg (€867,468), France (€360.37 million) and Finland (€21.14 million) saw the sharpest declines of 97.11%, 89.51%, 86.75%, 84.91% and 84.11% respectively.
Eurostat 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.
Organizations that cooperate with Eurostat in different countries are summarized under the European Statistical System.
Exports Decline 93%
Iran exported €648.32 million worth of commodities to EU during the 11-month period, indicating a 93.06% fall compared with the similar period of the previous year.
The main export destinations over the period were Germany (€177.09 million), Italy (€143.11 million), Spain (€72.28 million), Belgium (€36.41 million) and Romania (€34.62 million).
Iran’s exports to Latvia, Luxembourg and Portugal experienced the highest year-on-year growth rates of 479.41%, 117.85% and 79.51% respectively.
This is while exports to Greece, France and Austria fell by 99.05%, 98.99% and 97.22% YOY respectively, which are the sharpest among EU member states.
The exported goods mainly included edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruits or melons worth €120.71 million; iron and steel worth €109.19 million; plastics and articles thereof worth 102.56 million; coffee, tea, maté and spices worth €33.79 million; pharmaceutical products worth €30.89 million; carpets and other textile floor coverings worth €29.32 million; products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included worth €26.95 million; iron or steel products worth €26.09 million; lac, gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts worth €20.53 million; and nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances worth €15.62 million.
Imports Fall 51%
Imports from the EU dropped by 51.82% to stand at €4.08 billion during the 11 months.
The top five exporters from the European bloc to Iran were Germany with €1.34 billion, Italy with €746.03 million, the Netherlands with €439.2 million, France with €345.02 million and Belgium with €211.23 million worth of shipments to Iran.
Cyprus with €7.2 million, Bulgaria with €55.57 million and Croatia with €8.37 million were the EU countries whose exports to Iran saw the highest YOY increase (69.64%, 66.18% and 46.43% respectively).
Luxembourg with €580,440, Latvia with €851,248 and Finland with €20.69 million experienced the sharpest YOY decline in exports to Iran (90.96%, 87.13% and 84.37% respectively).
The imports mainly included nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof worth €1.02 billion; pharmaceutical products worth €623.97 million; optical, photographic, cinematographic, medical or surgical instruments; parts worth €513.31 million; electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television image and sound recorders and reproducers, and accessories of such articles worth €203.33 million; cereals worth €171.09 million; organic chemicals worth €145.58 million; miscellaneous chemical products worth €113.57 million; plastics and articles thereof worth €103.26 million; oilseeds, oleaginous fruits and other grains, seeds and fruit; industrial or medicinal plants, straw and fodder worth €88.1 million; essential oils and resinoids; and perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations worth €76.07 million.
Other imported products included paper and paperboard; paper pulp, paper or paperboard worth €62.86 million; tanning or dyeing extracts, tannins and their derivatives; dyes, pigments, paints, varnishes, putty, mastics and inks worth €59.4 million; manmade staple fibers worth €47.27 million; miscellaneous edible preparations worth €49.06 million; tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes worth €50.03 million; vehicles other than railcar or tramway rolling-stock, and parts and accessories thereof worth €44.05 million; iron or steel products worth €42.92 million; albuminoidal substances, modified starches, glues and enzymes worth €38.6 million; and residues and waste from food industries, as well as animal fodder worth €37.62 million.
Iran’s trade with EU member states in November stood at 419.74 million to register a downturn of 39.86% compared to November 2018.
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were Iran’s top three trading partners in November with commercial exchanges standing at €146.55 million, €71.59 million and €42.42 million respectively.
Iran’s trade with Luxembourg (€243,954), Malta (€78,172) and Portugal (€5.72 million) increased by 9,984.91%, 8,085.55% and 363.29% respectively year-on-year—the highest among EU states.
Trade with Greece (€1.91 million), Lithuania (€200,462) and Ireland (€2.36 million) saw the sharpest decline of 97.48%, 85.69% and 80.4% respectively.
Iran exported €61.99 million worth of commodities to the EU during November, indicating a 71.61% fall compared with last year’s November.
The main export destinations in November were Germany (€15.69 million), Italy (€8.63 million) and Spain (€8.33 million).
Iran’s exports to Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus experienced the highest year-on-year growth rates of 8,085.55%, 6,488.43% and 2,535.13% respectively.
This is while exports to Greece, Ireland and Italy fell by 98.86%, 97.31% and 90.18% YOY respectively, which are the sharpest among EU member states.
Imports from EU dropped by 25.41% to stand at €357.74 million during the month.
The top three exporters from the European bloc to Iran were Germany with €130.86 million, Italy with €62.95 million and the Netherlands with €36.3 million worth of shipments to Iran.
Luxembourg with €101,051, Portugal with €2.06 million, Estonia with €170,801 were the EU countries whose exports to Iran registered the highest YOY increase (40,320.4%, 167.32% and 144.37% respectively).
Slovakia with €3,805, Lithuania with €54,364 and Romania with €362,524 experienced the sharpest YOY decline in exports to Iran (99.55%, 95.99% and 91.92% respectively).
INSTEX Fails to Support Trade
The so-called Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), was set up by France, Germany and Italy in January 2019 as a special purpose vehicle to help EU companies do business with Iran and facilitate non-USD transactions to bypass and avoid breaking US sanctions.
The vehicle has become a point of contention between Europe and the Trump administration, with Washington effectively threatening to sanction anyone using the mechanism.
Since 2015, large corporations had withdrawn from trading with Iran.
However, European efforts to ensure continued trading with Tehran despite the sanctions have so far had little impact, as INSTEX remained dormant and failed to boost the Iranian economy.
Several sources have even confirmed to EURACTIV that there had been no transactions through the mechanism so far, though it has been staffed and became operational, having already been in contact with EU-Iranian businesses.
In late 2019, six European countries, namely Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, joined INSTEX and reiterated that they “attach the utmost importance to the preservation and full implementation of Iran's nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA for short) by all parties involved”.
EURACTIV has also learned that several other European countries have expressed interest in joining the mechanism, despite pressure from the US on Europeans to abandon these efforts.
Despite their verbal support, the three European powers informed the EU on Jan. 14 that they are triggering a dispute mechanism in the Iran nuclear deal after Tehran reduced its compliance to the agreement in response to the United States' withdrawal from it and reimposition of sanctions, as well as the European parties' total failure to fulfill their commitments and protect Iran's interests promised by the deal.
However, Iran insists that using the trigger mechanism would be illegal as long as Europe fails to fulfill its obligations under the nuclear deal, as INSTEX remains unimplemented.
Reports have revealed that the Europeans triggered the mechanism due to Trump’s threat of levying a 25% tariff on European cars unless they force Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal. Iran has vehemently rejected such a proposal.
Washington also imposed more sanctions on Tehran on Jan. 10, targeting multiple sectors of the Islamic Republic’s economy, including construction, manufacturing, textiles and mining.
Asked what his message to European allies, who continue doing business with the Iranians is, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin confirmed on Friday Washington had spoken to European counterparts several times over the past few days.
According to Mnuchin, the US has “warned INSTEX and others that they will most likely be subject to secondary sanctions, depending on how they use it [the mechanism]”.
Many experts had suggested in the past weeks that Europe needs to offer more concrete incentives beyond INSTEX to bring Iran back into compliance with the landmark nuclear accord.