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EU-Iran relations are based on the Joint Statement from 16 April 2016 that proposed several areas of cooperation. To strengthen their bilateral cooperation on trade and investment matters, the two parties agreed to exchange visits of expert delegations at an appropriate level. The EU supports Iran to become a member of the World Trade Organization.

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

  • In 2020, Iran was the EU’s 56th biggest trade partner. 17.5% of Iran’s imports came from the EU and 5.1% of the country’s exports went to the EU.
  • The EU is Iran’s 2nd biggest trade partner, representing 12.3% of the country’s total trade in goods with the world in 2020. Before the current sanctions regime, the EU used to be the most important partner of Iran.
  • Total trade in goods between the EU and Iran in 2020 amounted to €4.5 billion. The EU’s imports were worth €0.7 billion and were dominated by agriculture and raw materials (€0.4 billion, 57.1%), followed by chemicals (€0.1 billion, 14.2%) The EU’s exports amounted to €3.8 billion and were led by machinery and transport equipment (€1.3 billion, 34.2%), chemicals (€1.0 billion, 26.3%) and agriculture and raw materials (€0.7 billion, 18.4%).
  • Two-way trade in services totalled €1.5 billion in 2019, with EU imports of services representing €0.7 billion and exports €0.8 billion.
  • FDI flows remained relatively steady between 2017 and 2019, resulting in total EU FDI stock of €2.6 billion.

EU-Iran: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2018-2020, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2018 9.4 8.7 -0.7
2019 0.7 4.4 3.7
2020 0.7 3.7 3.0

EU-Iran: Trade in services

Trade in services 2017-2019, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2017 1.2 1.7 0.4
2018 1.0 1.4 0.4
2019 0.7 0.8 0.1

EU-Iran: Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment 2019, € billions
Year Inward stocks Outward stocks Balance
2019 2.4 2.6 0.2

Unless otherwise mentioned “EU” concerns for all indicated years the current European Union of 27 Member States.

Date of retrieval: 12/04/2021

More statistics on Iran

EU and Iran

EU-Iran relations are coordinated at the level of the EU by the Iran Task Force, which was established in 2015 after the conclusion of the JCPOA.

In February 2019, the Council of the EU adopted Conclusions on Iran, in which the EU expressed its continued support for the JCPOA.

Trade with Iran is subject to the general EU import regime, since Iran is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and no bilateral agreement exists between the EU and Iran. The EU supports the goal of Iranian accession to the WTO and sees it as a necessary step for Iran to trade globally as an effective and reliable actor.

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