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EU trade relations with Iran. Facts, figures and latest developments.

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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 Organisation.

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 2022, Iran was the EU’s 64th biggest trade partner.
  • Total trade in goods between the EU and Iran in 2022 amounted to €5.2 billion. The EU’s imports were worth €1 billion and were dominated by plastics and rubber (€0.26 billion, 26%) and vegetable products (€0.25 billion, 25%). The EU’s exports amounted to €4.2 billion and were led by machinery and transport equipment (€1.2 billion, 28.6%), and chemicals (€1.0 billion, 23.8%).
  • Two-way trade in services totalled €1.3 billion in 2021, with EU imports of services representing €0.7 billion and exports €0.6 billion.
  • EU FDI stocks in Iran amounted to €2.9 billion in 2021, with inward flows of €2.4 billion.

The 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:

EU sanctions regime

Following a confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran had fulfilled its nuclear obligations under JCPOA, all EU economic and financial sanctions taken in connection with the Iranian nuclear programme were lifted in January 2016.

Nonetheless some sanctions and restrictions remain, including:

  • the arms embargo;
  • sanctions related to missile technology;
  • restrictions on certain nuclear-related transfers and activities;
  • provisions concerning certain metals and software which are subject to an authorisation regime, and;
  • other related listings.

Committees and Dialogues

The EU and Iran meet regularly to discuss issues and best practices and oversee the proper functioning of the Agreement.

Technical committee meetings - agendas and reports

Trading with Iran