Europe’s trade system with Iran finally makes first deal amid Covid-19 outbreak

Europe’s trade system with Iran finally makes first deal amid Covid-19 outbreak
Despite difficulties, Germany’s foreign ministry said the three European countries “confirm that Instex has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran”. File picture.

European countries trying to keep Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers alive have said a system they set up to enable trade with Tehran has finally concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods.

Britain, France and Germany conceived the complex barter-type system dubbed Instex, which aims to protect companies doing business with Iran from American sanctions, in January 2019.

The move came months after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the nuclear deal Tehran struck with world powers in 2015 and reimposed sanctions.

Officials have since struggled to get the system up and running, but on Tuesday Germany’s foreign ministry said the three European countries “confirm that Instex has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran”.

“These goods are now in Iran,” it said in a statement but gave no details of the goods or who was involved in the transaction. It did not specify what the intended medical purpose was.

Iran has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but supplying medical goods to Iran was already a concern before the outbreak.

“Now the first transaction is complete, Instex and its Iranian counterpart STFI will work on more transactions and enhancing the mechanism,” the German foreign ministry statement said.

Tehran has gradually been violating the nuclear deal’s restrictions to pressure the remaining parties to the agreement — China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain — to provide new incentives to offset the American sanctions, saying that Instex has been insufficient.

The nuclear deal aims to prevent Iran from developing a bomb — something the country’s leaders insist they do not want to do.

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