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Iranian exports to Germany rose 50 percent last year: Handelsblatt


Berlin, Jan 9, IRNA - Iranian exports to Germany were up 50 percent in 2007 to reach 580 million euros, the business daily Handelsblatt reported Wednesday.

It cited the German Office for Foreign Trade (bfai) as saying that although German exports to Iran dropped for the second consecutive year, imports from Iran have risen almost 50 percent over the past years.

Meanwhile German exports to Iran fell 15 percent last year to around 3.5 billion euros.

The latest surprising trend in German-Iranian trade comes amid intense American and Israeli arm-twisting to force Berlin to reduce its business ties with Iran over the ongoing nuclear row with Iran.

German companies have stepped up their criticism of the German government for backing UN financial sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, saying their business interests have been severely affected by the controversial political move.

The Managing Director of the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA) Jens Nagel called "unilateral sanctions (against Iran) totally incomprehensible", especially after the release of the recent US intelligence report which stressed that Tehran was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Nagel voiced also growing concern that the German firms were gradually losing the lucrative Iranian market to Asian competitors.

The BGA official's assessment was echoed by the Managing Director of the German Near And Middle East Association (Numov) Helene Rang who made clear that a further tightening of sanctions against Iran would "not solve the problem."

"The sanctions are backfiring," she added.

The head of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Juergen Thumann warned earlier that German companies are to lose their good business contacts with Iran which they have developed over decades as a result of the continuing political pressure.

Several renowned German companies are involved in major Iranian infrastructure projects, especially in the petrochemical sector, like Linde, BASF, Lurgi, Krupp, Siemens, ZF Friedrichshafen, Mercedes, Volkswagen and MAN.

Some 50 German firms have their own branch offices in Iran and more than 12,000 firms have their own trade representatives in the country.

The President of the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA) Anton F. Boerner has warned that Germany could be among the main losers of sanctions against Iran.

He stressed that sanctions would especially hurt medium-sized German companies, which depend heavily on trade with Iran.

Boerner made clear that the ongoing row over Tehran's nuclear program should be resolved through "political and not economic means." "We should avoid everything which might aggravate the crisis," he added.

Meanwhile, the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) has repeatedly pointed out that economic sanctions on Iran may cost more than 10,000 German jobs and have a negative impact on the economic growth of Germany.

"Economic sanctions against Iran would not solve political problems, as the example of Iraq has shown dramatically. The German economy would be severely hit in an important growth market. The loss of business in Iran could threaten more than 10,000 jobs in Germany," the DIHK was quoted saying in a statement.

"If there were a real embargo, it would effectively kill off German trade with Iran," DIHK's Mideast expert Jochen Clausnitzer warned earlier.

More than 40,000 German jobs are indirectly affected by German- Iranian trade, a senior German official told IRNA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Political observers in Berlin expect leading industry federations to increase their lobbying efforts against Iran sanctions as many heads of German companies enjoy close ties with the co-ruling party of Chancellor Angela Merkel - the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

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