March 16, 2020
Despite a general notion that U.S. economic sanctions on Iran have stifled the country’s ability to buy medicines and other medical necessities, a review of European trade data shows little change in pharmaceutical exports to Iran.
An article published by the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies reveals that in 2019, the first full year of U.S. imposed sanctions, pharmaceutical exports from the European Union countries to Iran fell just five percent compared with 2018. At the same period, overall trade between the EU and Iran declined by half.
The data used by the authors of the article was taken from the official Eurostat database.
Iranian officials have been complaining that U.S. sanctions prevent humanitarian trade, which hurts the well-being of ordinary Iranians. U.S. officials insist food and pharmaceuticals are not included in its broad trade and banking sanctions, but Iran says they generally have a chilling effect on companies that shy away from doing business with Iran, concerned about possible violations.
With the deadly coronavirus epidemic hitting Iran hard, the issue of American sanctions has been highlighted again by Iranian officials in recent days. Both President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have called for an end to sanctions to help Iran cope with the unprecedented epidemic.
President Donald Trump and the U.S. State Department have offered Iran help in the crisis, but Iran insists the main issue is the lifting of the sanctions. Earlier this year, The U.S. reached an agreement with Switzerland to facilitate humanitarian trade with Iran through a special channel and already modest amounts of medical supplies have been sent to Iran.