Iran iron ore, bulk trade slides

By Silvia Antonioli and Jonathan Saul

LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Iron ore traders and dry bulk ship owners in Europe are pulling back from deals with Iran, worried they could miss out on vital future U.S. business as Western sanctions heap pressure on the Islamic Republic, trade sources say.

U.S. financial sanctions imposed since the beginning of this year to punish Tehran over its nuclear programme are playing havoc with its ability to buy imports and receive payment for its exports.

European traders and owners of bulker ships are reticent to carry Iranian iron ore, even though no formal bans have been imposed on this market.

“Companies trading with Iran risk ending up on the U.S. blacklist … and nobody wants to end up there,” a source at a European freight broker said. “It’s a high risk, given the international nature of this business.”

Iran is the world’s sixth-largest exporter of iron ore, with shipments of nearly 16 million tonnes last year. Almost all of them went to China, the world’s largest consumer of the steelmaking ingredient.

Companies worry that doing business with Iran now will put them in a difficult position.

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