The export to Iran of a thousand Charolais cows from Normandy, part of an ambitious and fruitful contract to develop cattle breeding in this country, is a victim of the reinstatement of American sanctions against Tehran. Donald Trump’s decision, which entered into force on Tuesday, August 7, has already resulted in the preventive withdrawal of several large French companies, such as the maritime carrier CMA-CGM, while PSA has announced that it has started to suspend the activities of its joint ventures on site and that European refiners, including Total, are preparing to stop their purchases of oil from Iran.
On another scale, an agreement that was forged in August 2016 between a French exporter and the Iranian group Seamorgh, the country’s leading producer of fresh eggs, with a view to ultimately sending some 20,000 Charolais cows from Normandy to Tehran, sees its deliveries suspended. For the UDI senator from Orne, Nathalie Goulet, one of the instigators of the project, the blocking of this contract of “several million euros” which was to develop a quality beef industry in Iran is concrete proof of the absence of a French or European protection system in the face of “American extraterritoriality”.
Concerns of banks after the record fines imposed on BNP Paribas or Crédit Agricole in 2015 for breaking an embargo, reluctance of French intermediaries anxious not to clash with the American authorities with whom they also trade, the reasons for the blockage are twofold, she explains.
Promised to success
In October 2017, 310 Charolais wattles raised in Normandy had nevertheless left for Iran, a first unprecedented test shipment, which was to verify their acclimatization and fattening in local infrastructures. “It was all a success and we therefore went to other lots, up to 20,000 cows per year”, explains for his part the director general of the Normandy economic development agency, Alexandre Wahl, another supporter of the project. But transactions that had to be done through letters of credit presented by the importer, initially accepted by French banks, are now refused, despite the arrival in June of representatives of the Iranian importer to negotiate with institutions.
Second obstacle, one of the main suppliers of cattle under the contract, the Agrial cooperative, present in the United States, withdrew from the project in the wake of Donald Trump’s announcements, also reports Senator Nathalie Goulet, a measure that the group, contacted, declined to comment. In total, three deliveries representing nearly a thousand animals that were to follow the successful test were suspended, confirmed Alexandre Wahl, who does not rule out that means of circumvention can be found in the long term. “Any action by the European Commission will be welcome,” he underlines.
“A response to extraterritoriality”?
The Commission on Tuesday activated the “blocking law”, a device to protect European companies against the sanctions that the United States is preparing to reinstate against Iran. “The blocking law gives EU operators the right to be compensated by the persons who caused them for any damage resulting from extraterritorial sanctions imposed by the United States and nullifies the effects in the European Union of any foreign court decision based on these sanctions “, specifies the Commission.
For Senator Nathalie Goulet, however, this law struggles to allay the concerns of small and medium-sized businesses, such as banks: “Will the Commission financially cover the risks? We need more Europe and above all, it must find a response to American extraterritoriality. “
Other Norman food groups are suffering from the unilateral withdrawal of the United States, she notes, in particular the infant milk sector of the Isigny-Sainte-Mère dairy. As for circumventing the sanctions, “it is not at all impossible that we can get there,” said the senator, “but it is far from simple”. The elected representative evokes the track of a third country.
French agricultural exports to Iran represented last year 19.5 million euros, or 1.3% of total exports of nearly 1.5 billion euros. France is Iran’s 9th supplier globally and its second largest trading partner within the European Union, behind Italy and ahead of Germany, according to the latest figures from the Directorate General of the Treasury.