Iran Buying More From U.S. Despite Tensions

A survey by the Associated Press indicates trade between the United States and Iran is very small. But the survey says American exports to Iran have nearly doubled since the beginning of the Obama Administration.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And you hear so much about the longstanding friction between Iran and the U.S. But trade between the two countries has been growing. This year, Iran has bought nearly twice as much from the U.S. as it did a year ago.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

ARI SHAPIRO: The United States has sanctions on Iran. So most American businesses can't sell anything to the country. But there are exceptions for humanitarian goods. Wheat, soybeans and medical supplies are some of the biggest American exports to Iran, according to The Associated Press. The AP studied trade records from the first four months of this year and found $96 million in exports. During the same period a year ago, that number was only $51 million.

And when President Bush took office in 2001, the U.S. only sold $8 million worth of goods to Iran. The numbers have been growing steadily ever since. These numbers are tiny compared to countries that do not have trade sanctions on the country. China, for example, did $8 billion in business with Iran last year. And Germany's exports to Iran totaled nearly six billion. Experts disagree about whether sanctions work. Since Iranians started protesting their country's disputed election, some American lawmakers have suggested cutting off exports to Iran altogether. President Obama has not endorsed that proposal.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.

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