Macron won't take sides over trade with Iran

Lester Mason
May 18, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron ruled out on Thursday any trade war with the United States over its withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal as a wave of European companies quit business with Tehran, fearing the global reach of USA sanctions.

Ignoring European support for the nuclear pact, U.S. President Donald Trump-branded the agreement as "the worst deal ever" and announced on May 8 the United States was pulling out.

European Union leaders meeting in Bulgaria pledged Thursday to refuse all trade talks with the United States unless Washington grants a permanent exemption from painful metals tariffs that are set to kick in on June 1.

However, the Cuba row was settled politically, so the blocking regulation's effectiveness was never put to the test, and its value may lie more as a bargaining chip with Washington.

Speaking to reporters before an European Union summit in Bulgaria, he accused Washington of "capricious assertiveness" in abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will "present their assessment of the situation" to their colleagues, he said. He has made us realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm."European leaders are troubled by Trump's "America first" rhetoric and inconsistent statements on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union".

"Unpredictability is the last thing we need when we are friends..."

He fleshed out the message at a joint news conference on Thursday.

"The EU will continue fighting for a rules-based worldwide system despite recent decisions on climate change, tariffs and Iran", the source said after the leaders met over dinner in Sofia.

Also, EC has made a decision to allow European Investment Bank to facilitate investment of European companies in the Islamic Republic of Iran, he maintained. Beijing also signalled that it intends to continue trading with Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran's oil minister said that Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC was ready to replace Total on a major gas field project in Iran if the French energy giant pulls out.

Russian firms have less to lose from bucking U.S. sanctions.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Washington's Middle Eastern allies, are the countries supporting Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

The US is the world's leading economic power.

"Under the prerequisite of not violating its global obligations, the Chinese side will continue to carry out normal and transparent practical cooperation with Iran", said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

"Which company is going to risk access to the USA market, which is 100 times larger", Ardavan Amir-Alsani, a Paris-based lawyer who specialises in Iran, said in an interview.

Trump's approach to tariffs combined with his unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement are costing Europe time and money, and some leaders are weighing whether a new approach is needed.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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