12 May, 2018
European businesses have the most to lose from renewed United States sanctions against Iran, analysts said Wednesday, with massive sums at stake for some of the continent's big names.
Following the recent announcement by President Donald Trump that the US will withdraw from a nuclear pact with Iran, Boeing Co.
European officials will "do everything" possible to protect their interests, an official in the French presidency said.
"We're carefully analysing the announcement and will be evaluating next steps consistent with our internal policies and in full compliance with sanctions and export control regulations", an Airbus spokesman said in an emailed statement. In December 2016, it signed a deal to sell 80 jet planes to Iran Air including 50 737 MAX 8 models.
"Do we want to be vassals who obey decisions taken by the United States while clinging to the hem of their pants?"
"You can try to circumvent sanctions, but not if you're a big company", he told AFP. Following the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran in 2015 after the middle-eastern country agreed to curb its nuclear program, the stage was set for Iran's re-entry into the global economy.
And that threat is far from empty.
The following year, Deutsche Bank paid $258 million in U.S. fines for doing business with Iran and Syria pursuing, according to United States regulators, a "lucrative" USA dollar business for sanctioned customers.
Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran deal has left his country diplomatically isolated.
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The European Union's trade with Iran almost tripled in under three years, growing from 7.7 billion euros ($9.14 billion) in 2015 to 21 billion euros in 2017.
Talking directly to Washington to soften the Trump administration's stance may be the wisest course of action, some companies say.
The new sanctions against Iran will allow for certain exemptions and waivers to be negotiated, but Mnuchin wouldn't discuss what products or countries might qualify for waivers.
For now corporate bosses are completely in the dark as to whether the sanctions regime will be watered down in this, or any other, way.
In a lengthy government statement on Friday, the Iranian government warned that it would take "whatever reciprocal measures it deems expedient" if it is not fully compensated for the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement as provided for in the accord.
Which is why many take a cautious stance. It was created to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
Iran, which had ambitions to turn Tehran into a regional aviation hub, has been denied the opportunity to renew its ageing fleet of aircraft after the U.S. withdrawal from a nuclear pact with the Islamic Republic barred plane sales by Boeing and Airbus.
"The Europeans should not have to pay for the withdrawal of an agreement by the United States, to which they had themselves contributed", he said.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Europe-1 radio that Europe should not accept that the U.S.is the "world's economic policeman".