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Germans still bank with Iran
Official insists financial operations are being frozen
Question of the Day
German trade with Iran in the first four months of 2010 totaled $1.8 billion, according to the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg. That figure increased by 20 percent from the same period in 2009.
In 2008, Germany was the second largest exporting nation to Iran, behind only China, doing $5.7 billion in trade with the Islamic republic that year. The volume of trade increased by 10.5 percent from 2007, according to official German statistics.
Matthias Kuntzel, a German political scientist who has closely watched Germany’s trade with Iran, said he was pleased that some Iranian banks would be closing their doors.
But he pointed out that some business between Germany and Iran continues.
“Commercial trade with Iran from Germany goes up and down,” he said. “In March, there was a remarkable increase in trade; in April there was a decline.
“We don’t have the figures yet, but it’s obvious there is a lot of business going on. To give an example, even the official foreign business agency of the German government is advertising industrial meetings with Iranians,” he said.
Mr. Kuntzel provided copies of announcements from the official export promotion newsletter of Germany’s ministry of economics and technology known as IXPOS. In August, there was an advertisement for a meeting in Hamburg about export credit guarantees for trade with Iran. In November, IXPOS advertised for a trade show on renewable energy in Iran.
“You have these announcements and they give the signals to exporters to Iran that nothing has changed,” Mr. Kuntzel said. “I would like there to be different signals.”
Holger Beutel, a spokesman for Germany’s Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA), said in an interview Wednesday that the IXPOS newsletters were not a statement of German policy.
“These are tools or a platform where foreign companies are looking for trade,” Mr. Beutel said of the announcements in the IXPOS newsletter. “It is not a statement of policy.”
Mr. Beutel, whose agency approves the dual-use contracts for German companies seeking trade with Iran, said the process for approving sensitive exports to Iran involved a strict risk assessment.
“From the legal perspective, it is rather strict, even though it is not a total embargo,” he said. “From that time, some dual-use exports are possible but only after a thorough risk assessment on our side.”
Dual-use exports are materials or technology that can have a civilian and military function.
Mario Mancuso, the former U.S. commerce undersecretary for industry and security between 2007 and January 2009, said in an interview, “I am very worried about some German companies.”
He added that German companies also have made progress in curbing sensitive trade to Iran.
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About the Author
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
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