"UAE merchants protest Iran sanctions"

"UAE merchants protest Iran sanctions"

Businessmen in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have protested the restrictions imposed on trades with Iran due to Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

A group of exporters and importers of food, construction materials, medicine and auto spare parts in Dubai met with UAE's Prime Minister Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Monday, calling on him to protect Dubai's commerce sector against the losses inflicted by the US-led sanctions, Press TV reported.

The merchants reportedly called on the UAE premier, who is also the vice president, to intervene and ease the obstacles imposed by the UN Security Council's (UNSC) sanctions disrupting trade with the neighboring Iran.

They complained about restrictions imposed by banks in terms of opening letters of credit and finance so as to fulfill their contracting obligations with their partners.

In June, the UNSC agreed to Israeli and US-engineered sanctions against Iran's nuclear program, citing "unresolved concerns" about the nature of Islamic Republic's nuclear activity.

Tehran has repeatedly dismissed Western accusation of efforts to produce nuclear weapons, insisting the nuclear program is solely aimed at civilian purposes in the fields of research and energy.

In line with the sanctions, the UAE has banned 41 international and domestic companies from trade with Iran for violating the US sanctions against the Islamic Republic by sending materials of "possible military use" to Iran.

The central bank in the UAE has also frozen more than two dozen bank accounts belonging to Iranian juristic and natural persons.

Iran is one of the UAE's major trading partners with around USD eight billion in bilateral trade in 2009. The figure is, however, expected to fall to USD six billion this year after the sanctions by the US and its allies have been imposed.

Some 25,000 companies registered in the UAE, which have done business with Iran for over four decades, have lost 40 percent of their business due to banking restrictions.

Iran's Business Council earlier warned that bilateral trade between the UAE and Iran is nearing "a standstill" because local banks "are going beyond UN sanctions to prevent almost all transactions tied to the Islamic Republic."

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