I have a few clients who have recently been approached by importers in Iran for products from the UK. The general list of products consist of Consumer goods (General retail products) and some cases of machinery for Factories. I have looked on many websites and I am a bit confused. I know the companies need to check with the banks but are they allowed to export to Iran from the Uk?
For exports from the UK you need to look at https://www.gov.uk/sanctions-on-iran
This web page lists all the sanctions, embargoes, asset freezes etc. that apply to Iran.
The official Government line is that they do not encourage business with or exports to Iran.
That being said some shipments can take place but it is not business as usual. For non strategic goods you need to be careful of dual-use issues (the military can use a fridge-freezer just as easily as a householder) and of financial sanctions against certain banks, individuals and companies.
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Companies are allowed to trade with Iran under certain conditions. For those clients for whom trade is legitimate today – in particular in relation to medical goods, pharmaceuticals, humanitarian matters, food and agriculture – they will continue to face the commercial challenges of actually getting paid.
Amendments to the EU Sanctions on Iran (Council Regulation 2014/42/EU) where announced in Jan this year which means some sanctions were suspended for a period of 6 months (until 20th July 2014). The amendments also increase the authorisation thresholds in relations to the transfers of funds to and from Iran
The revised sanctions also include increases of the authorisation thresholds in relations to the transfers of funds to and from Iran. See HM Treasury Financial Sanctions Notice 210114. The vast majority of prohibitions contained in Regulation 267/2012 (as amended by Regulation 1263/2012) remain, in particular, prohibitions against the provision of insurance to certain Iranian persons, entities or bodies, the supply of key equipment and technology in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors and prohibitions on dealings in aluminum, graphite, certain semi-finished metals and natural gas.
Iranian banks are no closer to dealing directly with EU banks and the asset freeze remains. The reality is that the easing of EU offers little real benefit today to most of our clients.
EU banks are permitted to be involved in those legitimate transactions but choose not to. Until there is a change of heart by the EU banks to agree to do something they are in fact permitted to do, any relaxation in EU sanctions will have little real impact on the ground. It is suspected that the EU banks are afraid to incur the wrath of the USA, though the USA stance on Iran is also softening.
I have experience of exporting to Iran consumer goods.
As mentioned already there are sanctions for goods which could be classified as for military use. But mechanical equipment or machinery for factories could be interpreted as having another usage. For this type of equipment I have no experience.
Yes, with consumer goods there are as many obstacles in the exporters way as possible to persuade companies not to deal with Iran. But they are mostly allowed.
If for example you want to trade with Letters of Credit or documentary credits then few European banks will deal with the paperwork for you. They are worried that if USA finds out they may lose business in the USA, which will be infinitely more than doing business with you. Even if the goods have another country destination such as one of the states in UAE, but the container tags used or the vessel used are registered in Iran, then the banks will reject your paperwork.
But there are ways around this, but I hasten to say it can be very time consuming and you have to decide on the benefits versus the hidden costs.