Trade with Iran
The European Union has a long-standing relationship with Iran, which is coordinated at EU level by the Iran Task Force. Trade with Iran is subject to the general EU import regime, as Iran is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and no bilateral agreement exists between the EU and Iran. The EU supports Iranian accession to the WTO and sees it as a necessary step for Iran to trade globally as an effective and reliable actor.
EU-Iran agri-food trade
The EU enjoys a healthy agri-food trade partnership with Iran. In 2020:
- total trade in goods between the EU and Iran amounted to €4.5 billion;
- EU agri-food exports to Iran were valued at €692 million, accounting for 18.5% of total EU exports to the country;
- EU agri-food imports from Iran were valued at €355 million, almost 50% of total imports from Iran;
- the top EU agri-food products exported to Iran were wheat (€230 m) and cereals other than wheat and rice (€130 m);
- the top agri-food imports from Iran were fresh or dried tropical fruit, nuts and spices (€242 m), and fresh, chilled or frozen offal, animal fats and other meats (€35 m).
Visit of Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan to Tehran
In 2017, then-Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan visited Iran, where he was accompanied by a delegation of business representatives from the EU agri-food sector. The delegation represented over 40 different companies and organisations and 20 EU countries. The visit was historic, being the first time a Commissioner for Agriculture had visited the country.
The focal point of the visit was a meeting between Commissioner Hogan and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Minister of Agriculture, H.E. Mahmoud Hojjati. During the meeting, both parties affirmed their common interest in developing stronger agricultural relations between the EU and Iran. They pledged to enhance bilateral agri-food trade and investment, and to intensify exchanges at a technical level.
Commissioner Hogan highlighted the EU’s commitment to cooperate with Iran on the organisation of events and meetings in areas of common interest, such as:
- the EU’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) system
- geographical indications (where registrations from Iran would be encouraged)
- medicinal plants
- organic farming
- agriculture and rural development policy
- facilitating trade in other areas of export interest to Iran, to enhance access to the EU market.
A commitment was also made to speed up the procedure to authorise Iranian exports of ostrich products and trout from aquaculture to the EU market, and to initiate the procedure for authorising the entry of registered horses from Iran into the EU.
From the Iranian side, Minister Hojjati acknowledged the commitment to cooperate with the EU on:
- speeding up the authorisation of outstanding requests from EU countries relating to SPS controls (for beef, sheepmeat, live animals, dairy, trout eggs, olive oil, feedstuffs);
- simplifying and streamlining the SPS requirements on imports of such products agreed with EU countries;
- discussing harmonised import requirements for exports from the EU;
- procedures for the direct registration of EU geographical indications.
Minister Hojjati also indicated the determination of Iran to join the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).
Both Commissioner Hogan and Minister Hojjati underlined the importance of facilitating business-to-business contacts between EU and Iranian agri-food companies and farm groups, with a view to developing communication channels and partnerships. In light of this, both parties acknowledged the relationship that had been established between Food Drink Europe and the Iranian Federation of Food Industries during this visit.