Turkey seeks ways to maintain trade ties with Iran in the face of nuclear sanctions
Turkey is looking for ways to maintain its $10 billion trade volume with Iran despite a new round of UN-imposed sanctions. Due to its nuclear program, Iran has come under pressure from many nations, especially the US, which led international efforts at the UN Security Council to impose new sanctions on Tehran despite a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered this May by Turkey and Brazil. The US, Canada and the European Union have all also declared unilateral sanctions against Iran, besides the ones imposed by the UN. Though Washington has urged Turkey to also support these sanctions, Turkey says it will not, but will only abide by the UN sanctions. During a National Security Council (MGK) meeting earlier this month, Turkey's liabilities over the UN resolution imposing new sanctions on Iran (which Turkey voted against), and how those sanctions could impact Turkey's financial and commercial ties, were discussed. More recently, economy bureaucrats discussed a host of scenarios about the sanctions' impact on the private sector and the risk of a deadlock in payment systems. A US delegation recently visited Ankara and discussed with government officials and banking and private sector representatives the impact on Turkey of international and national sanctions against Iran, urging Ankara to support more such sanctions. During a recent meeting convened by the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat, top economy and energy bureaucrats concluded that no Turkish bank wants to be blacklisted by the US for fear that they could have difficulty finding foreign financing in international markets. Also Turkish firms will be warned not to do business, even indirectly, with companies blacklisted by the US. In related news, Industry and Trade Minister Nihat Ergun yesterday said that previously agreed economic and trade cooperation projects between Turkey and Iran wouldn't be interrupted by new sanctions, saying that they would determinedly carry through those projects. One such project would establish a major joint industrial zone on Turkey and Iran's shared border. Under the project, Iran would provide energy supplies, with Turkey sharing its technical expertise. Another planned project between Turkey and Iran concerns joint car production. Rich in petroleum and gas resources, Iran has refining problems that could be worsened by the sanctions. Turkey will make preparations in the event that Iran turns to Turkey to solve its refining problems. Despite the sanctions, many companies, including ones from the US and EU member countries, still continue doing business with Iran through alternate channels. During the Iraqi embargo years following the Gulf War in the early 1990s, which cost Turkey billions of dollars, Turkey continued more than 90 percent of exports to Iraq via Jordan.