France To Sidestep Sanctions by Setting up New Trade Financing Vehicles

Ever since France, the U.S., and other world powers agreed in 2015 to lift certain economic sanctions in exchange for controls on Iran’s nuclear program, European countries have been searching for a way to step up trade with Iran. France plans to structure financing in such a way as to increase trade with Iran while avoiding the long reach of U.S. sanctions. By offering euro-denominated credits to buyers in Iran, the French will be able to increase sales of its goods.

According to Nicolas Dufoursq, the head of France’s state-owned investment bank, Bpifrance, a lot of preparation has gone into this plan to provide new loans. “This is a completely separate flow (of money),” he explained. “There is no (U.S) dollar in this scheme.” He added that there is as much as 1.5 billion euros in potential contracts from French exporters alone.

The French have maintained trade ties with Iran for decades and still have large factories there, including a Renault plant. Other European countries such as Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Austria are working on their own financial mechanisms to enable them to bolster trade while not running afoul of U.S. sanctions.

As recently as October of 2017, Trump criticized such efforts to sidestep nuclear agreements, but has since told French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel they could "keep making money" in Iran.