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The EU's trade with Iran was subject to restrictions derived from United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions between 2006 and 2010.

A group of EU and non-EU countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the European Union) and the Islamic Republic of Iran reached an agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on 14 July 2015.

The JCPOA dictates limitations to Iran’s nuclear programme as well as increased monitoring and transparency in exchange for the relief of existing international sanctions, including on trade. In response to the JCPOA, the UN began lifting some sanctions in January 2016.

The JCPOA and its implementation open up the possibility of a gradual but substantive reengagement with Iran at different levels, including bilateral trade.

Trade picture

  • China, the United Arab Emirates,and the EU are now Iran's main trading partners, accounting for 19.5%, 16.8% and 16.3% respectively. The EU used to be the first trading partner of Iran before the current sanctions regime.
  • Balance in trade with Iran was €682 million in 2017. Trade balances since 2012 with Iran have been mostly positive; for the previous five years they were mostly negative.
  • The EU exported over €10.8 billion worth of goods to Iran in 2017. EU exports to Iran are mainly machinery and transport equipment (€5.5 billion, 50.9%), chemicals (€1.9 billion, 18.1%), and manufactured goods (€0.9 billion, 8.9%).
  • The EU imported over €10.1 billion worth of goods from Iran in 2017. Most EU imports from Iran are energy-related (mineral fuels account for €8.9 billion and 88.7% of EU imports from Iran), followed by manufactured goods (€0.6 billion, 6.4%), and food (€0.3 billion, 3.3%).
  • In 2017, EU imports from Iran increased by 83.9% and EU exports increased by 31.5%.

EU-Iran: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2015-2017, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2015 1.3 6.5 5.2
2016 5.5 8.2 2.7
2017 10.1 10.8 0.7

EU-Iran: Trade in services

Trade in services 2014-2016, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2014 0.7 0.8 0.1
2015 0.7 0.9 0.3
2016 1.0 1.2 0.2

EU-Iran: Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment 2016, € billions
Year Inward stocks Outward stocks Balance
2016 2.2 4.2 2.0

Date of retrieval: 16/04/2018

More statistics on Iran

EU and Iran

Trade with Iran is subject to the general EU import regime, since Iran is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and no bilateral agreement exists between the EU and Iran.

The EU supports the goal of Iranian accession to the WTO, a necessary step for Iran to trade globally as an effective and reliable actor.

Negotiations for a non-preferential Trade and Cooperation Agreement took place, in parallel with negotiations on Political Dialogue and Counter-Terrorism between 2002 and 2005. These negotiations were put on hold after Iran resumed its uranium conversion programme. There are no current plans to reactivate these negotiations.

More information available:

Trading with Iran

There is currently no EU Delegation in Tehran. The EU is usually represented by the EU Member State holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU.