Germany wheat exports to Iran remain high despite sanctions

Thu May 2, 2013 9:13am EDT

* Exported 119,653 tonnes of wheat to Iran in February

* Total of 1.02 mln tonnes July 2012-Feb. 2013

* Only 63,000 tonnes in same period a year earlier

HAMBURG, May 2 (Reuters) - Germany exported 119,653 tonnes of wheat to Iran in February, figures from the German statistics agency showed on Thursday, suggesting that Western sanctions against Tehran are not hindering sales.

This brought total German wheat exports to Iran in the period between July 2012 and the end of February 2013 to 1.024 million tonnes, agency figures showed, against only 63,000 tonnes in the same period a year earlier.

"Iran is the main customer for German wheat this season, by far the biggest customer for the total 1.9 million tonnes exported since July," a German trader said. "The sanctions do not seem to be troubling (wheat sales to Iran)."

Germany had also exported 125,577 tonnes of wheat to Iran in January 2013 and 129,000 tonnes of wheat to Iran in December 2012.

The European Union and the United States have imposed toughened sanctions meant to discourage Tehran's nuclear programme, which they say has a military purpose. Iran rejects these allegations, insisting that its atomic programme is peaceful.

Western sanctions do not target food shipments, but financial measures have frozen Iranian companies out of much of the global banking system, hindering payments for imports on which Iran relies for much of its food.

European traders said on March 21 that Iran's state grain buyer GTC had bought 120,000 tonnes of milling wheat, with 60,000 tonnes due for shipment from Australia and 60,000 tonnes from Germany.

On March 15 traders said that a ship was due in a German port to load about 55,000 tonnes of wheat for Iran.

No wheat shipments have been made from Pakistan to Iran under a one million tonne barter deal, proposed in March last year and agreed in August, because of unresolved payment issues, trade sources said on April 12. (Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by David Goodman)

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