France to finance exports to Iran to sidestep U.S. sanctions

PARIS - France will start offering euro-denominated loans to Iranian buyers of its goods later this year, to help trade flourish outside the reach of US sanctions, the head of state-owned investment bank Bpifrance said.

France has been looking to boost trade with Iran ever since Paris, Washington and other world powers agreed in 2015 to lift many sanctions on Iran in exchange for controls on its nuclear program.

But US President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the agreement and Washington has maintained some financial restrictions, leaving private banks - even those based outside the United States - wary of financing deals.

The plan is to offer dedicated, euro-denominated export credits to Iranian buyers of French goods and services and so avoid the extraterritorial reach of US legislation.