Doing Business in Iran for EU and US-based companies

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Question Answered 18th January 2016

Question: 

In light of the recent news that the sanctions have been lifted on Iran, does that mean that European and US companies (or subsidiaries of US multi-nationals) can start selling products in Iran without the need for export licenses?

The products in question are electronic goods for quality control and factory automation not dual-use, military etc. 

Or, is Iran still under embargo / export control?

Answer: 

On 16 January  2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed to the UN Security Council that Iran has taken all measures  laid out in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed by E3 + 3 (UK, France Germany, US, Russia and China) and Islamic Republic of Iran, to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme is entirely peaceful in nature. This date is commonly known as Implementation Day. Consequently, all economic and financial sanctions made in connection with the Iranian nuclear programme have been lifted.

Measures and sanctions which are outside the scope of JCPOA and will remain in place post Implementation Day.

Specifically, on Implementation Day, the United States lifted the following secondary sanctions:

Financial and banking-related sanctions (see sections 4.1 of Annex II and 17.1 of Annex V of the JCPOA);

  • Sanctions on the provision of underwriting services, insurance, or re-insurance in connection with activities that are consistent with the JCPOA (see sections 4.2 of Annex II and 17.1 of Annex V of the JCPOA);
  • Sanctions on Iran’s energy and petrochemical sectors (see sections 4.3 of Annex II and 17.1 of Annex V of the JCPOA);
  • Sanctions on transactions with Iran’s shipping and shipbuilding sectors and port operators (see sections 4.4 of Annex II and 17.1 of Annex V of the JCPOA);
  • Sanctions on Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals (see sections 4.5 of Annex II and 17.1 of Annex V of the JCPOA);
  • Sanctions on trade with Iran in graphite, raw or semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel, coal, and software for integrating industrial processes, in connection with activities that are consistent with the JCPOA (see sections 4.6 of Annex II and 17.2 of Annex V of the JCPOA);
  • Sanctions on the sale, supply, or transfer of goods and services used in connection with Iran’s automotive sector (see sections 4.7 of Annex II and 17.1 of Annex V of the JCPOA); and
  • Sanctions on associated services for each of the categories above (see sections 4.1-4.7 of Annex II and 17.1-17.2 of Annex V of the JCPOA).

For the U.S.A. domestic trade embargo on Iran remains in place.
For European Union based firms, similar trade embargos on Iran also remain in place.

Even after Implementation Day, with limited exceptions, U.S. and E.U. persons – including U.S. and E.U. companies – continue to be broadly prohibited from engaging in transactions or dealings with Iran or its government.

In addition, the Government of Iran and Iranian financial institutions remain persons whose property and interests in property are blocked under Executive Order 13599 and section 560.211 of the ITSR, and U.S. persons continue to be broadly prohibited from engaging in transactions or dealings with the Government of Iran and Iranian financial institutions, with the exception of transactions that are exempt from regulation or authorized by OFAC. Unless an exemption or express OFAC authorization applies, U.S. persons continue to have an obligation to block the property and interests in property of all individuals and entities that meet the definition of the Government of Iran or an Iranian financial institution, regardless of whether or not the individual or entity has been identified by OFAC on the E.O. 13599 List . In addition, non-U.S. persons continue to be prohibited from knowingly5 engaging in conduct that seeks to evade U.S. restrictions on transactions or dealings with Iran or that causes the export of goods or services from the United States to Iran.

If you would seek to do business legally with Iran (by becoming a government approved exporter to Iran), please contact one of our specialists and they will assist further.

Read More on Iran Sanctions
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Iran Sanctions - Congressional Research Services Report - 16th January 2016