NAGOYA – Toyota Motor Corp. has suspended its auto exports to Iran for an indefinite period amid mounting international pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program, company officials said Wednesday.
The automaker, which halted shipments in June, especially feared that the continuation of car sales to Iran could hurt its business in the U.S. market, given that the United States is spearheading international efforts to slap the Islamic republic with further sanctions, they said.
The move might prompt other Japanese companies to rethink their dealings with Iran, economists said.
In North America, the largest market for Toyota, the company’s business has been foundering due to the effects of the global economic crisis and massive recalls of its cars over sudden acceleration cases. Sales have picked up lately.
As Iran remains determined to move ahead with its nuclear program, the U.N. Security Council adopted in June a resolution to hit Iran with additional sanctions, including extensive asset freezes and travel bans for individuals and entities involved in nuclear and missile projects.
In early July, Washington signed into law its own sanctions aimed at further penalizing Iran. Later in the same month, foreign ministers of the European Union also opted for new sanctions.
Toyota voluntarily ceased exports to Iran although its trade would probably not have violated the new U.S. law on Iranian sanctions or entailed restrictions on its activities in the U.S. market.
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