Korea has been known to allow Iran for intermediary trades of so-called “humanitarian” products, easing restrictions it has enforced in line with the US’s sanctions on the Muslim country’s nuclear programs. The intermediary trade means exporting foreign-produced goods after bringing them to customs-free bonded areas.
On October 16, Korea’s finance minister Hyun Oh-seok, who was in Washington to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, said that the easing went into effect on September 16 for intermediary trades of food, medication, and other goods deemed necessary for humanitarian purposes.
He added that the allowance came to be possible through negotiations with the US. In October 2010, Korea agreed on Korean won-based transaction settlements for the bilateral trade between Korea and Iran, mainly owing to necessity for oil imports. The minister went on to say that the move does not go against the US-led sanctions against Iran, including the ban on dealing with dollar-based financial transactions.
The move came amid growing concerns that the US sanctions are hurting small and medium-sized Korean companies doing business with Iran. During a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in Moscow in July, Finance Minister Hyun expressed concerns over the growing damage that US sanctions on Iran are having on small Korean companies.