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EghtesadOnline: Central Bank of Iran’s Governor Valiollah Seif discussed the proposal of establishing a joint bank with Syria.

Initially mooted years ago but left dormant due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle Eastern country, the proposal was revived during a recent meeting with Syria’s Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil in Tehran on Wednesday, according to CBI’s official news portal.

“In view of the positive atmosphere and following victories [against foreign-backed terrorists], we hope that the banking ties of the two nations would deepen more than ever to rebuild Syria,” Seif said.

“As a result, the Central Bank of Iran wishes to put on its agenda dealings with banking delegations to serve as a prelude to expansion of cooperation.”

According to Financial Tribune, Iran and Syria had discussed the idea of establishing a joint bank named Al-Aman. 

Seif said that can be again placed on the agenda and “finalized quickly” after negotiations, adding that such a measure would also boost Iran-Syria trade significantly.

The CBI chief also proposed other models of establishing banking links, including the creation of joint accounts between the central banks of the two countries for clearing transactions.

He also told the minister that Iranian banks are eager to establish branches in Syria. 

“We also welcome the presence of Syrian bank branches in Iran,” Seif said.

Seif called on Syrian banks to accept guarantees issued by their Iranian counterparts to facilitate the operations of Iranian contractors currently working in Syria. 

“Accelerating their work would in fact expedite the rebuilding process of Syria,” he said.

The CBI governor then outlined achievements made during the tenure of President Hassan Rouhani, namely bringing the inflation rate down to single digits, boosting economic growth and improving the climate of doing business.

He also referred to volatilities in the foreign exchange market that finally forced the government to unify foreign exchange rates on April 9 to stop the rial from hitting historic lows against majorly-traded currencies.

Seif put the steep fluctuations to “atmospheres created by foreign enemies and some psychological factors”. He further said the government’s currency rescue package “prevented foreign shocks resulting from the withdrawal of US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” referring to Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers by its formal name. US President Donald Trump on May 8 violated the deal and heralded the reimposition of strict sanctions against Iran.

At Wednesday’s meeting, al-Khalil reportedly welcomed expansion of banking and economic ties with Iran and said since the two countries are similar in that they have both been subject to cruel sanctions imposed by world powers, Syria has always been watching Iran closely to positively use its experience in fighting off sanctions.

“The responsibility of economic and political officials of Syria and Iran is now much more important under the current circumstances and it is necessary that ways of cooperation are considered more carefully,” he said.

Al-Khalil said his peers in Syria’s Economy Ministry and central bank are willing to develop banking ties with Iran and look favorably at opening joint bank accounts as a positive first step.

At the end of the meeting, the minister officially invited Seif to travel to Syria and meet with his counterpart on behalf of the government and the head of the Syrian central bank.

Al-Khalil had earlier met with Iran’s Minister of Economic and Finance Affairs Masoud Karbasian to explore means of expanding trade and banking ties.     

 

Valiollah Seif Central Bank of Iran Iran Syria Joint Bank