All tagged pharmaceuticals
◢ Since the year 2000, Iran has about doubled its annual imports of pharmaceutical products from the European Union, reflecting both advances in Iranian healthcare and the growth in Europe-Iran trade ties. But a distortion in the value of trade relative to quantity means that Iran is paying significantly more than the likes of Russia, Turkey, and Pakistan for each kilogram of medication.
◢ Last year, the Swiss government opened negotiations with the Trump administration to ensure that Switzerland’s significant sales of pharmaceutical products and medical devices—technically exempt from U.S. sanctions—could continue unimpeded. But the National Security Council has so far prevented the Swiss effort to ease trade in food and medicine in a remarkable subversion of longstanding U.S. protections for humanitarian trade with Iran.
◢ Data from Eurostat and the Swiss Federal Customs Administration show that European exports of pharmaceutical products to Iran have fallen considerably on a year-on-year basis. While some of Iran’s smaller trade partners have seen export values rise, Iran’s top sources of European pharmaceutical products are seeing exports contract.
◢ With just two weeks until Trump reimposes secondary sanctions on Iran, administration officials are under increasing pressure to prove that the returning sanctions will not adversely impact humanitarian trade. Looking to US Census Bureau export data, a clear pattern emerges—the export of humanitarian goods like food and medicine remains significantly lower than average monthly values registered during the Obama years.
◢ A crisis is looming in Iran’s healthcare sector: patients are reporting shortages in life-saving medicine. The situation is expected to worsen once US sanctions on Iran are reimposed in November. European and US companies that can provide the advanced medicine and equipment needed to treat chronic diseases inside Iran are grappling with how to sustain their operations. New US sanctions will put the health of ordinary Iranians at risk. Europe can take concrete steps to minimize this—steps which also support its ongoing commitment to the nuclear deal.
◢ In the years when Iran was under broad international sanctions, the country saw shortages in key foodstuffs and life-saving medicines. Despite attestations to the contrary, international sanctions hurt the Iranian people in cruel ways. As Iranians prepare for the return of U.S. sanctions, concerning ambiguity in OFAC’s new sanctions guidance may undermine the longstanding exemptions for humanitarian trade and the carve-outs for the Iranian banks which facilitate these sales.