The US crackdown on Iran is increasingly putting pressure on the German economy. Of the 120 German companies that have been active in Iran, only 60 are still in the country, said the foreign trade chief of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), Volker Treier, the German Press Agency.
German-Iranian trade has collapsed. In the first quarter, German exports to the country fell by 50 percent year-on-year, while Iranian exports to Germany fell by almost 42 percent.
"The economic situation is delicate and anything but encouraging for German companies," said Treier. "US sanctions are acting as a complete embargo on economic relations because the financial sector is affected."
Since the US exit from the nuclear deal last year, and especially since the imposition of new US sanctions on the financial and energy sectors in particular, Iran is in an acute economic crisis. The Americans had once again massively increased the pressure on the Iranian leadership, including with military threats.
Germany's exports to the Islamic Republic fell from January to March to only about 339 million euros. In 2018, according to DIHK, the main categories of German supplies to Iran were machinery, apparatus and mechanical appliances, followed by pharmaceutical and electrotechnical products. Afterwards came products of the optical industry as well as motor vehicles.
According to DIHK, Iran ranked 62nd in the ranking of the most important German trading partners in 2018. The volume of German exports to Iran in the first three months of the year is comparable to that of Belarus and Kazakhstan.
After the lifting of years of Western sanctions in the wake of the nuclear agreement, Iran was still considered a future market for German companies. According to DIHK, Iran was the second most important export market for German companies outside Europe in the 1970s, behind the USA.
In the first three months of 2019, Iran delivered goods worth 60 million euros to Germany. According to DIHK, the main products Iran delivered last year were pistachios and nuts. Then came mineral fuels, skins and sheep intestines, carpets and iron and steel.
Treier said the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK) expects Iran's gross domestic product to drop by five percent this year and ten percent next year. "That's disillusioning."
One of the last great hopes of the Europeans rests on a company founded in late January called Instex. By doing so, Germany, France and the United Kingdom want to at least partially uproot American economic sanctions. Instex is intended to settle payment transactions in Iran transactions if private banks no longer declare their willingness to pay due to imminent US penalties.
"Instex is a symbol of the Americans – that Europe has something to counter economic policy," said Treier. "But Instex is not yet running as it had hoped the German companies." In order for Instex to work as an exchange, for example, Iran would have to deliver oil, for example, to Italy, so that claims can be offset against each other. "Iran can not sell so many pistachios and nuts."