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Iran Sanctions Will Help China’s Petro-Yuan

Iran Sanctions Will Help China’s Petro-Yuan

China

In a few days, U.S. President Trump may try to re-impose sanctions on Iran, a dramatic step that could heighten tensions between the two countries. Some analysts believe the move could contribute to a much broader global economic power shift from the U.S. to China.

The connection between the issues may not be obvious at first glance, but by seeking to isolate Iran from the international market, Iran could look elsewhere. Because the global oil trade is conducted in greenbacks, the U.S Treasury was able to restrict Iran’s ability to access the global financial system in the past. That made it extremely difficult for Iran to sell its oil prior to the thaw in relations in 2015, which kept millions of barrels of daily oil production on the sidelines.

This time around, however, the U.S. will likely go it alone. The Trump administration won’t have the backing of the international community in its campaign to resurrect sanctions against Iran, which will make isolation much more difficult. A few months ago, Goldman Sachs predicted that unilateral sanctions from the U.S. could affect a few hundred thousand barrels per day from Iran, but without help from the rest of the world, the effort would not curtail nearly the same amount of oil as the last time around.

Moreover, some analysts argue that the Washington crackdown could merely push Iran to begin selling oil under contracts denominated in yuan rather than dollars.

“Potential consequent reactivation of sanctions may cause Iran to export oil using the Chinese Yuan denominated contract, which launches on 18 January,” Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief Commodities Analyst at SEB, said in a statement. “This may spark a move away from the present long-established U.S. Dollar (USD) denominated oil trading regime.”

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