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US sanctions lead to severe drop in Iran trade with Germany

Angela Merkel (Tobias Koch/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Falling trade between Germany and Iran indicate that stinging U.S. sanctions are affecting the commercial preferences of countries when deciding on whether to conduct business with Tehran.

German exports to Iran fell by 48 percent to $759 million in the first six months of this year, Reuters reported, indicating that certain companies are trying not to vex the United States after Washington reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Likewise, Iran’s sales to Germany for the same period plunged to $123 million, representing a 43-percent drop.

“German companies are forced to choose between their market activities in Iran and the United States, so it’s clear which market is preferred,” the BGA trade association told Reuters.

Recent U.S. sanctions punish companies from third countries if they trade with Iran.

Since the sanctions were imposed, Iran’s oil production has plummeted to 300,000 barrels a day or less.

Its economy will shrink by 6 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund projects. Unemployment remains high, at 12 percent.

Last year U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that promised to lift sanctions if Tehran’s nuclear program remained peaceful in nature.

Germany, France, and Britain, also signatories to the pact, have tried to salvage it by devising a barter system for Iran to purchase such products as food and pharmaceuticals. Called Instex, the program has yet to be implemented.

Tehran has insisted it must be allowed to sell oil, which is subject to U.S. sanctions as well as its banking industry.

Trump has said publicly several times that he is willing to hold talks with the Iranians even as he implements his campaign of “maximum pressure.”

Tehran has called the United States’ actions “economic terrorism.”

Earlier this month, Iran threatened to block all energy exports out of the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of global oil passes, if it’s unable to sell oil.

Tehran also has said it no longer feels bound to comply with the nuclear deal.

Iran said earlier this month that it had increased its stockpile of heavy water beyond the 130-ton limit, according to Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

Tehran also exceeded the maximum reserve of 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium.