02 August 2012

Unintended consequences—Bangladesh suffers from Iran sanctions

The Bangladeshis are entirely innocent of any real or imagined transgressions on the part of Iran, yet they are being punished nonetheless. Their sin is a heavy reliance on the jute crop.

Jute is a major industry in Bangladesh, worth a billion dollars in exports, mainly to Iran. Forty million people, mostly farmers, depend on it. But exports to Iran are faltering and the industry, including many of those 40 million people, are suffering. As part of the sanctions against Iran, the West has imposed severe restrictions on its banks, and as a result exporters are finding it difficult to realize payments.

Not only Bangladeshis are affected. Jute farmers in Egypt, Syria and Libya are also being hurt. The sanctions are a collective punishment not only of Iranians, but of people around the globe—collateral damage of Western policy.

We are constantly reminded we now live in a world of global trade. Perhaps we should keep this in mind when we level sanctions.

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