EghtesadOnline: Iran and Italy have held extensive negotiations since the nuclear accord was implemented in 2016 for the European nation to extend a major credit line to Iran and it seems that the wait may finally be over, Iran's economy minister said.
In a meeting with his Italian counterpart Pier Carlo Padoan, Masoud Karbasian also referred to negotiations between the two countries and said he is hopeful that based on agreements between the two sides, "the deals for the credit lines will be signed within the next few weeks", the official news portal of the ministry reported.
The finance agreement has reportedly been in the making through the efforts of the Central Bank of Iran and the Economy Ministry, as well as Italian banks.
Karbasian is in Washington DC at the head of a high-ranking delegation from the Central Bank of Iran, including its Governor Valiollah Seif, to participate in the annual meetings of World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund running through October 13-15, according to Financial Tribune.
The exact volume of the Italian credit line remains unclear, but SACE, the Italian export credit agency, had announced in April 2016 that it will guarantee loans and offer trade financing worth €4.8 billion ($5.6 billion) and state-run lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti will offer a credit line of €4 billion ($4.7) to companies building oil and gas infrastructure in Iran.
In his meeting with the Italian minister, Karbasian referred to a threefold increase in Iran-Italy trade in the first half of 2017 and pushed for further expansion of economic ties.
Pointing to measures undertaken by Iran in line with increasing transparency and organizing the banking system, he noted that the country has set a goal of achieving an average 8% GDP growth rate as part of its Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22), which requires the attraction of foreign finance and technology.
"Italy and Iran could work well in a host of industries, especially those of steel and transportation," he added.
Padoan said his country pursues development of bilateral relations in multiple fields, adding that Italian companies are eager to work with their Iranian counterparts, which will be facilitated by financial agreements.
Boosting Iran-Armenia Ties
Karbasian also met with Vardan Harutyunyan, Armenia's head of the State Revenue Committee, and emphasizing that Iran-Armenia economic and political ties are strong.
"Friendly ties between the two countries must be bolstered with stronger economic ties and to achieve this goal, the commission for boosting economic ties must become more active," he said.
The official stressed the importance of expanding banking cooperation, collaborating in free trade zones, avoiding double taxation and investing in mutually beneficial fields.
Harutyunyan referred to the historically strong Iran-Armenia ties and said his country is ready to expand economic ties, especially in the fields of information technology and customs.
Brighter Future for Iran-Tanzania Prospects
Karbasian also met with Tanzania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Mahiga.
He announced after the meeting that based on negotiations and after a final agreement is made, "the grounds for developing bilateral cooperation between the two countries will be established through exporting technical and engineering services, as well as industrial goods from Iran to Tanzania".
But as Karbasian pointed out, a yet unreturned €78 million loan to the East African country must be cleared first and to facilitate the same, Iran has decided to forgo the interest on the loan.
"As Tanzania is an indebted nation, IMF has suggested to debt owner countries to forgo the liabilities and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations have already done so," he said.
"But that is not currently possible for us and we need to at least receive the original amount of the loans, but fortunately we agreed on a schedule today which will be finalized in the coming weeks."
Mahiga told reporters his country is determined to develop ties with Iran and referred to the loan interest waiver proposition as a positive move.
WB/IMF Conference, Meetings Unaffected by Trump
Mohammad Khazaei, the head of the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran who is also a member of the delegation, said US President Donald Trump's decision to decertify the nuclear deal will not affect the decisions made in the WB/IMF annual conferences and meetings.
He further confirmed that Iran will not be holding negotiations with representatives of major banks as part of the US trip.
During the three-day trip, Karbasian has been "scheduled to meet with about 10 economy ministers from various European, Asian and neighboring countries", Khazaei said.
The Iranian delegation will also hold a meeting with ministers from the Group of 24 countries.