Spain considering joining Europe’s Instex channel to uphold trade flows with Iran

By bne IntelliNews May 22, 2019

Spain is considering joining Europe’s Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (Instex) financial channel created to assist companies that wish to continue trading with Iran despite the US sanctions regime aimed at Tehran, Iran Chamber reported on May 21 citing EFE.

Prior to the reintroduction of US sanctions last year, Spain was a growing business partner to Iran. The most significant Iranian exports heading to the southern European country were oil, gas and foodstuffs.

“Spain is very concerned about the evolution of relations with Iran,” Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell reportedly told reporters, while meeting EU counterparts in Brussels.

Madrid, he added, was concerned at the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal and the European Union “would do whatever it can to keep the agreement alive”.

The nuclear deal was drawn up to shield Iran from heavy sanctions in return for compliance with measures that ensure its nuclear development programme stays purely civilian. But the US says the deal should be tougher on Iran and address other issues such as its support for militias across the Middle East. The five other major powers that signed the accord disagree.

Borrell was also cited as saying that the Spanish government was looking at all options to keep trade with Iran flowing.

The US intensified its sanctions campaign against Iran in two primary waves last year, the first coming in August and the second in November.

Two weeks ago Washington began a campaign to push Iran’s lifeline oil exports towards zero while also placing sanctions on Iran’s international trade in industrial metals.

The Spanish foreign ministers' comments follow a similar tone adopted by the Czech Republic’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Eduard Muricky who recently called for complementary trade transaction systems to be set up alongside Instex.

Visiting Tehran as part of a business and political delegation, Muricky warned that Instex alone is not enough to help Iran in its current situation. That’s plain for all to see.

Instex, mainly backed by France, Germany and the UK, has not been launched yet after months of delays. It has also not even been readied to make possible the trading of items subject to US sanctions. Officials envisage it assisting with flows of food and medicine, initially at least.

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