Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges

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TypeSociété par actions simplifiée
IndustryClearing house
Founded31 January 2019; 2 years ago (2019-01-31)
Key people
Per Fischer
(managing director)
Sir Simon McDonald
(chairman of the supervisory board)
Miguel Berger
(member of the supervisory board)
Maurice Gourdault-Montagne
(member of the supervisory board)

The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) is a European special-purpose vehicle (SPV) established on 31 January 2019. Its mission is to facilitate non-USD and non-SWIFT[1][2] transactions with Iran to avoid breaking U.S. sanctions.[3]

Five EU nations declared in a joint statement on 29 November 2019 that they will join the INSTEX mechanism for trade with Iran. These countries are Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland and Sweden.[4]


The SPV is headquartered in Paris and is headed by Per Fischer, who formerly served as Head of Financial Institutions at Commerzbank, between 2003 and 2014.[5]


As of May 2019, the use of the SPV is limited to humanitarian purposes; such as the purchase of foods or medicines.[2] INSTEX had been made available to all EU member states. On 11 February 2019, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov stated that Russia would be interested in participating in INSTEX.[6]


On 28 June 2019, France, Germany and the United Kingdom told a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission that INSTEX had been made operational and available to all EU member states.[7][8] Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy stated that the purpose of INSTEX is to facilitate "legitimate trade" with Iran for any EU member and has been conceived to be open to non-EU countries.[9]

In Iran, INSTEX is mirrored by the STFI (Special Trade and Finance Instrument), a similar SPV. STFI matches incoming and outgoing transactions in the same way. In effect, two Iranian entities pay each other, thus, no money crosses the Iranian border.[10]

As of January 2020, the mechanism remained unused and "irrelevant to EU-Iranian trade".[11][12]

On 31 March 2020, the first INSTEX transaction was concluded. It covered an import of medical equipment to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "European powers launch mechanism for trade with Iran". Reuters. 31 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b Girardi, Annalisa (9 April 2019). "INSTEX, A New Channel To Bypass U.S. Sanctions And Trade With Iran". Forbes.
  3. ^ Coppola, Frances (30 June 2019). "Europe Circumvents U.S. Sanctions On Iran". Forbes.
  4. ^ Didili, Zoi (3 December 2019). "Six European nations join INSTEX mechanism for trade with Iran". New Europe. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  5. ^ "INSTEX: Europe sets up transactions channel with Iran". Deutsche Welle. 31 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Рябков: РФ будет добиваться участия в механизме внешнеторговых расчетов INSTEX с Ираном" [Ryabkov: Russia will seek participation in the mechanism of foreign trade settlements INSTEX with Iran]. TASS (in Russian). 11 February 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  7. ^ Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Europe says Iran trade channel operational -statement". Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  8. ^ "Chair's statement following the 28 June 2019 meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" (Press release). Vienna: European External Action Service. 28 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini following the Foreign Affairs Council". Brussels: European External Action Service. 15 July 2019.
  10. ^ "EU nations launch mechanism to trade with Iran". Euronews. 31 January 2019.
  11. ^ "EU-Iran Instex trade channel remains pipe dream". DW. 31 January 2020.
  12. ^ Brzozowski, Alexandra (14 January 2020). "INSTEX fails to support EU-Iran trade as nuclear accord falters". Euractiv. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  13. ^ "INSTEX successfully concludes first transaction". GOV.UK. Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 31 March 2020.
  14. ^ "European countries to send medical aid to Iran in first INSTEX transaction". AMN. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.