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Iran hedges bets on EU, China with focus on trade with neighbors

Beyond engaging with Europe and major global trading partners such as China, Iran is looking to its neighbors to blunt the impact of US sanctions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with European Commissioner for Energy and Climate, Miguel Arias Canete, in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2018. REUTERS/Alissa de Carbonnel - RC1C675026A0

At an initial glance, one might assume that Tehran’s paths for dealing with Washington’s reimposed sanctions all end in either Brussels or Beijing. It should be noted, however, that Iran is also working on opening other avenues — namely those leading to its neighbors.

Based on recent customs’ statistics, in the first six months of the current Iranian year 1397 that began on March 21, 2018 — which coincided with the United States pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reimposing sanctions on Iran — 56% of the country’s $23 billion worth of non-petroleum exports were absorbed by neighboring countries. Compared to the same period in the previous Iranian year that began in March 2017, this showed an 8% increase. More importantly, Iran’s non-oil exports to its key neighbor markets — Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan — jumped by 44.58, 30.03 and 30.90%, respectively. Except for Turkey, Kuwait and Turkmenistan, Iran’s exports to other neighboring countries also grew during this time.

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