U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that new sanctions have just been imposed by America on both China and the United Arab Emirates because companies in those countries have been trading in Iranian petrochemicals in defiance of American sanctions imposed on Iran. The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four entities for facilitating the export of Iranian petrochemical products by Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd, a Hong Kong based firm which the United States has blacklisted for its work in helping Iran evade the American sanctions.
Iranian petrochemical sales are an important revenue source for the Iranian regime. The United States accuses the Iranians of using this revenue to finance world terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and to continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The Department of State imposed sanctions on Vietnam Gas and Chemicals Transportation Corporation for similar reasons.
Iranian petrochemical products are brokered internationally by Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (Triliance), an entity designated by Treasury in January 2020.
— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) December 16, 2020
“Iran’s petrochemical and petroleum sectors are primary sources of funding for the Iranian regime, which it uses to support its malign domestic and foreign agenda,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States will act against persons who support illicit actors engaged in the movement of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical sales.”
So what exactly are the allegations?
According to American officials, in early 2020 China-based Donghai International Ship Management Limited (Donghai) operated a vessel that freighted tens of thousands of metric tons of petrochemicals worth millions of dollars from Iran to China.
The U.S. Treasury Department also charges that China’s Petrochem South East Limited (Petrochem) was used to channel payments to companies involved in deals with Triliance. In early 2020, Petrochem was used to make payment to Donghai in return for Donghai’s management of a vessel used to transport petrochemicals in a deal brokered by Triliance. Likewise, in late 2019, Petrochem was used to facilitate a payment related to a deal for Iranian petrochemicals facilitated by Triliance.
— NCSC (@NCSCgov) December 14, 2020
As for the United Arab Emirates, its Alpha Tech Trading FZE stands accused of being used as a front company for Triliance’s brokerage of thousands of tons of petrochemical sales. OFAC designated Trio Energy DMCC in September 2020 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Triliance. Likewise, UAE-based Petroliance Trading FZE has been used as a front company for Triliance’s brokerage of petrochemical sales.
Meanwhile, Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also labeled both Vietnam and Switzerland currency manipulators. The U.S. Treasury determined that at least part of these two nations’ exchange rate management over the last four years as well as their particularly foreign exchange intervention, was for purposes of preventing effective balance of payments adjustments and, in the case of Vietnam, for gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade as well.
In other words, the American government thinks that Switzerland and Vietnam have artificially devalued their own currencies in some way which makes their exports cheaper to American importers while at the same time making American exports more expensive for importation into their countries. The U.S. says that this harms American farmers and manufacturers unfairly.
While no formal sanctions have been imposed or called for against Vietnam and Switzerland, the two nation must now enter into discussion with American authorities in order to settle these allegations.
Well Steven Mnuchin is certainly doing a lot with only 35 days left in office. Even after the Electoral College formally declared Joe Biden the President Elect of the United States, Donald Trump and his people are still acting like they are going into a second term.