London, Aug 19, IRNA - Economic sanctions imposed by the EU are hitting exports from the 27-member states and not Iranian exports, according to the latest trade figures from Eurostat obtained by IRNA.
The countries most adversely affected have been Iran's biggest trading partners in Europe, France, Germany and Italy, whose combined sales fell from Euro 8.6 billion in 2005 to less than Euro 7 bn last year, a drop of some 20 percent.
During the same period, Iranian exports to the three major member states rose from Euro 5.5 bn to Euro 7.1 bn, an increase of 30 per cent, albeit during surging oil prices.
Overall, EU imports from Iran have grown during the two-year period from Euro 11.5 bn to Euro 13.9 bn, after reaching a record of Euro 14.4 bn in 2006. It has left Iran with a rising trade surplus reaching Euro 3.7 bn in 2007.
In contrast, the 27-member group suffered from a trade deficit with the rest of the world of Euro 186 bn last year due to a massive negative imbalance in crude oil and gas of Euro 271 bn.
It is not yet known how the latest EU restrictions, including discouraging financial support for their companies doing business with Iran, will further affect bilateral trade.
But Eurostat's figures for the first five months in 2008 showed a recovery in the EU's sales to Iran reaching Euro 4.5 bn compared with Euro 3.8 bn for the same period last year, while there was a marginal dip in Iran's exports by Euro 150,000 to Euro 5.5 bn.
Most of the recovery so far this year was due to exports from France rising by Euro 160,000 to Euro 716,000, by Germany increasing by Euro 223,000 to Euro 1.6 bn and Italy up Euro 230 to Euro 871,000.
Whether the improvement is just a blip or due to European companies anticipating new restrictions that could further hit their business remains to be seen.
But one underlying trend the figures reveal is that a factor behind Iran's increased sales to the 27-nation group has been a rise in non-oil exports, which have grown from Euro 1.1 bn in 2005 to more than Euro 1.6 bn last year.
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