Turkish gold sales to Iran in March soared over 30 times and gold companies said Iranians were turning to gold for savings and possibly trade as Western sanctions tighten.
Sanctions to force Iran to curb its nuclear programme have targeted its energy and banking sectors and new measures from both the United States and European Union take effect in July, aimed at strangling Tehran’s foreign earnings.
The sanctions have made neighbouring Turkey an ever more important channel for the Islamic republic.
Data from Turkey’s Statistics Institute on Thursday showed gold exports to Iran rose to nine tonnes, worth $480 million, in March, from 286 kg a year earlier and compared to just 30 kg in February this year.
They were the highest monthly exports to Iran since records started in 2010. Total gold exports were 11.1 tonnes in March.
“It wouldn’t be wrong to say Iran chooses Turkey for gold imports because of embargoes,” said Gokhan Aksu, vice chairman of Istanbul Gold Refinery, one of Turkey’s biggest gold firms.
“Iranians prefer jewels and precious stones to protect the value of their money and escape instability,” he told Reuters.