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U.S. Companies Quietly Bump Up Trade With Iran

EU nations obeying Washington’s sanctions are upset over U.S. deals
Cargo is unloaded from ships at port in Khorramshahr, Iran, on March 17
Cargo is unloaded from ships at port in Khorramshahr, Iran, on March 17Photograph by Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images

In Europe, complaints about curbs on trade with Iran are growing louder as officials point out that the U.S., the author and enforcer of tough sanctions, is itself doing more business with the Islamic Republic. U.S. shipments to Iran have climbed 35 percent since 2011, compared with a 77 percent drop for the European Union, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

EU business still dwarfs that of the U.S. by more than 20 to 1 and includes industrial goods Americans haven’t sold to Iran for decades. But some EU officials say it’s unfair that U.S. trade is rising as European companies are making sacrifices. “It seems the U.S. seeks a competitive advantage,” Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament who serves on the Foreign Affairs and International Trade committees, wrote in response to questions. The Obama administration denies that it’s trying to give U.S. companies a leg up.