China has supplanted the EU to become Iran’s largest trading partner, the Financial Times reported. According to official figures, trade between the EU and Iran stood at US$35 billion in 2008, compared to US$29 billion with China. However, these calculations do not take into account the fact that much of Iran’s trade with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprises goods channeled to or from China. Majid-Reza Hariri, deputy head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, said through trade with China makes up more than half of Tehran’s US$10.9 billion annual business with the UAE. This means actual bilateral trade could be at least US$36.5 billion. China depends on Iran for 11% of its energy needs, with shipments of consumer goods and machinery going in the other direction. Business links between Beijing and Tehran go some way towards explaining China’s reluctance to agree to further economic sanctions on Iran proposed by Western governments keen to curtail the nation’s nuclear ambitions.
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