Trade

The United States has begun unblocking deals by Western giants to sell jetliners to Iran in a move likely to ease complaints from Tehran over implementation of last year’s sanctions deal, but test conservative opposition to the deals in both nations, according to Reuters.

Europe’s Airbus (AIR.PA) said on Wednesday it had received U.S. Treasury approval to begin exporting jets to Iran, under a deal for more than 100 jets struck in January.

Hours later, its U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N), which had been behind Airbus in the line for permits because its matching deal for over 100 jets came six months later, said it had received a sales license and remained in talks with IranAir.

The U.S. Treasury confirmed issuing two licenses.

The move removes a key hurdle to one of the most high-profile deals between Iran and foreign companies since last year’s agreement between Tehran and world powers to open up trade in exchange for curbs on the country’s nuclear activities.

But major questions remain over the financing of deals between Iran and Western planemakers that threaten to obstruct deliveries of the planes, in what is seen as a test case for Western trade and investment following the nuclear deal.

Foreign banks are reluctant to finance the aircraft deals, fearing they could fall foul of remaining U.S. sanctions that prohibit the use of its financial system for Iranian business, something difficult to avoid in a complex global supply chain.

With U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump strongly critical of the rapprochement, some banks fear they could be left with no insurance if Iran sanctions “snap back”.

The deals by Airbus and Boeing to sell or lease over 200 jets to flag carrier IranAir would help modernize and expand the country’s elderly fleet, held together by smuggled or improvised parts after years of sanctions.

But nine months after the first deal was signed, Iranian officials had voiced growing concerns about what they saw as unfair delays in obtaining U.S. licenses or clarity over banking and financing rules.

Tehran’s deputy roads and urban development minister told the CAPA Iran Aviation Finance Summit in Tehran this week that failing to clear the jet sales would put Washington in “breach” of the nuclear pact.

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