Volume. 12230

U.S.-Iran trade irks Europeans as companies suffer
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Europeans are complaining about rising American trade with Iran as their companies bear the brunt of the sanctions that the U.S. government pushed through against the Islamic Republic.
While Europe’s trade with Iran still dwarfs that of the U.S. by more than 20-to-one, American business has climbed 35 percent since 2011, compared with a 77 percent drop for the European Union, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 
Some officials say it’s unfair that U.S. exports, mostly food, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, are rising at a time when European companies are making sacrifices and their banks are being fined for alleged dealings with sanctioned countries.
“The EU needs to address concerns with the U.S.,” said Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the EU Parliament who has served on the Foreign Affairs and International Trade committees.
“American sanctions vis-a-vis Iran have had undesired extra-territorial impact on EU business,” Schaake, who was in Iran in December, said in a written response to questions.
U.S. trade with Iran rose to $315 million last year from $234 million in 2011, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. During the same period, European trade fell to 6 billion euros ($8.2 billion) from 28 billion euros, European Commission figures show.
The shift happened as Europe followed the U.S. in ramping up sanctions in 2011 and 2012. While U.S. trade is near its 10-year average, European shipments are less than a third. At the end of last year, U.S. companies traded $1 with Iran for every $26 Europe did, compared with $155 two years earlier.
Europe’s main exports to Iran are industrial and agricultural products, according to the European Commission. The U.S.’s biggest exports last year were rice, pulp wood, and dairy products, according the U.S. Census Bureau.
The U.S. isn’t seeking to give its companies advantages through its sanctions regime, a senior U.S. administration official said. European trade with Iran will probably see a bounce in the second quarter because of the interim deal reached in Geneva in November, which lifted some sanctions in return for curbs on nuclear work, said the official, who asked not to be named because of the issue’s sensitivity.
One of the European complaints is that U.S. companies get waivers from the authorities there that aren’t available to non-Americans. The Treasury grants licenses for U.S. businesses to trade permitted goods with Iran.
(Source: Bloomberg)

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