9 May 2018

Trump's Iran threat 'pretty concerning' for NZ exporters

5:59 pm on 9 May 2018

New Zealand exporters which sent $120m of goods to Iran last year may be affected by US president Donald Trump's threat to sanction countries who trade with the Middle Eastern nation.

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump Photo: AFP

Mr Trump today announced the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and that it would re-impose sanctions against the Middle-Eastern nation.

New Zealand exported $120 million of goods to Iran last year, with dairy products making up three-quarters of that. Imports totalled $6.8 million, with dates contributing over half.

Mr Trump threatened to impose sanctions on countries who traded with Iran and Export NZ executive director Catherine Beard said that created uncertainty.

"(It is) pretty concerning for our exporters who find (Iran) a valuable market," she said.

"It's a real challenge when market access chops and changes."

Firms would try and shift their business to other countries in the Middle East, Ms Beard said.

"Exporters are pretty fleet of foot when they need to be. They hopefully will have other choices and they'll start to redirect."

Trade Minister David Parker indicated that only countries helping Iran make nuclear weapons would be sanctioned.

More than three-quarters of New Zealand exports are dairy.

"Despite US plans to leave the deal, we continue to encourage Iran to remain in compliance," Mr Parker said.

"We hope other signatories will still see the value in remaining in the deal."

"The US' decision doesn't trigger any unilateral action from New Zealand. Our previous sanctions related to Iran reflected UN Security Council resolutions that were largely revoked in 2016, following the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)."

Mr Trump was been highly critical of the 2015 Iranian accord which limited its nuclear activities.

In the announcement this morning Mr Trump he called the deal "defective at its core".

"This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made," he said.

"It didn't bring calm. It didn't bring peace. And it never will."

The president said the US would institute "highest level" sanctions against Iran.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the decision was "disappointing".

"Our view is that it made for a more stable, predictable Middle East," she said.

EU powers see the deal as the best way to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb and their officials met a senior Iranian on Tuesday without US officials present.

In a statement, France, Germany and the UK - who are also signatories to the deal - have said they "regret" the American decision.

The European Union's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the EU was "determined to preserve" the deal.