The U.S. Department of State is expected to announce sanctions waivers this week for certain countries importing Iranian oil. These waivers are in follow-up to the Central Bank sanctions signed by President Obama on January 1 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2012 (HR 1540) (you may remember a posting on the MENA Lawyer blog on this topic in January). That act calls on certain sanctions to be placed on third country financial institutions (including central banks) deemed to be used for facilitating the purchase of Iranian oil.
The U.S. has stated that it will provide waivers to entities that significantly reduce purchases of Iranian oil. Japan was issued one earlier this year. As mentioned above, it is expected that some countries will receive waivers in exchange for commitments to reduce oil purchases.
Will these sanctions affect average businesses conducting trade with Iran? Probably not. It will naturally push Iranian supply out of the market for many countries, including even those in Asia, a number of which have already cut their purchases of Iranian oil. This of course can have more significant repercussions on the global economy. It should not, however, significantly affect issues such as permitted exports to Iran or transfers of personal remittances.