The European Union said Thursday it is making progress on its barter-type system to trade with Iran and get around US sanctions as part of its efforts to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive.
EU foreign policy secretary general, Helga Schmid, said Thursday that beyond the 10 EU nations that are already part of the system, "we now have seven more member states that have announced they will either join the shareholders or use INSTEX," she said, referring to the barter system.
Schmid added that "from consultations I had last week, I can share with you that more, also non-EU member states, will join."
INSTEX is a barter trade mechanism that aims to avoid direct financial transfers by offsetting balances between importers and exporters on the European side. It was set up by France, Britain and Germany.
The US quit the 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers last year and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic's crucial oil sales as well as other parts of the economy.
Iran's main demand – in talks with the European parties to the deal and as a precondition to any talks with the United States – is to be allowed to sell its oil at the levels before Washington pulled out.
Iran trade ‘legitimate’
China, one of the main buyers of Iran’s crude and key trade partner, said Friday it opposes unilateral sanctions against Iran and criticized what it describes as the “long arm jurisdiction” of the United States.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said that international trade with Iran “within the framework of international law is reasonable and legitimate and deserves to be respected and protected.”
“We will resolutely defend our legitimate and lawful rights and interests,” the spokesman added.
China is one of the world powers that signed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also said last week he hoped the special non-dollar trade channel would complete a first, limited transaction soon.
The system, as Europe says, initially will only deal in products such as pharmaceuticals and foods, which are not subject to US sanctions.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said INSTEX must include oil sales or provide substantial credit facilities for it to be beneficial.
AP and Reuters contributed to this story.