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Iran-China Trade Drops 35 Percent In 2019

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Friday, May 17, 2019. (Thomas Peter/Pool Photo via AP)

The latest official figures from China show that its trade with Iran suffered a substantial drop in the first five months of 2019, compared with the same period last year.

Trade figures published by China’s customs on June 17 show Iran’s exports, including crude oil, declined 46.6 percent totaling $7.17 billion. China’s exports to Iran also declined by 26% reaching a low of $3.74 billion.

As U.S. imposed oil sanctions on Iran last November, China and a handful of other countries received a six-month waiver to continue buying a limited amount of oil from Iran. The exemption ended May 1 and as a result Iran’s trade with China is expected to decline further in the coming months.

China is Iran’s largest oil customer and also its biggest non-oil trading partner.

Considering all bilateral commercial interactions, trade in total declined 35 percent in the first five months of the year.

China supports Iran diplomatically but its huge trading relations with the United States are much more important for the country that the relatively small trade it has with Iran.

United States-China trade reached nearly $660 billion in 2018.