EghtesadOnline: Central Bank of Iran’s conditions on non-oil exporters to repatriate their currency earnings has been criticized yet again by exporting countries after they reportedly received export ban warnings from lenders.
While officials have commended the performance of non-oil exporters and expressed satisfaction about the repatriated earnings, some exporters say CBI repatriation rules are too stringent and that it has done too little to pave the way for exporting firms to return their overseas income.
Many lament that they can’t bring their earnings back to simply because there is no banking channel to do so
“We have exported to many countries but due to the banking sanctions, we cannot bring the money back home,” Financial Tribune quoted Hale Ahmadifar, a member of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, as saying.
Ahmadifar, who also is manager of a pharmaceutical company, criticized the CBI for threatening exporters with blacklisting while the bank itself has remained largely passive in defining and creating channels for returning the export incomes.
“We have sold pharmaceuticals to Syria [a close ally of Tehran], but Syrian banks say they can’t pay into sanctioned banks,” TCCIM quoted him as saying.
The same applies to neighboring Iraq, Ahmadifar said, blaming CBI for evading its responsibilities and enforcing policies seen as irrational, particularly at a time when the country is saddled with tough economic restrictions.
She called on the CBI to acknowledge the exceptionally difficult conditions of foreign trade during sanctions.
Reacting to the CBI export ban threat, she said “once the central bank defines a pathway for returning export currency…. and exporter(s) default, then the bank can put them to the blacklist.”
The government has further tightened restrictions on repatriating currency earnings on non-oil exports since the spring of 2018 after the United Sates unleashed a new round of sanctions on Iran’s crude oil export.
The sanctions triggered a severe shortage of foreign currency as oil exports declined to unprecedented lows, forcing the beleaguered government to look for alternative sources of foreign currency.
Based on rules announced by the CBI in mid-May, companies are now required to sell at least half of their export earnings in the secondary market, known locally as Nima, at exchange rates below the (higher) rates in the open market. Petrochemical companies must bring back at least 60% of their earnings and sell it via Nima.
As per law, at least 20% of the total proceeds sold in the secondary market must be in cash. The balance can be used to import goods, machinery and equipment either by the exporting firm or any other third party.
Nima is a CBI-affiliated platform where exporters sell their overseas earnings and importers purchase it for importing non-essential goods, machinery, equipment and raw materials.
Exporters of non-oil goods repatriated more than €12.4 billion of their overseas earnings since the beginning of the current fiscal year in mid-March, according to a central bank report. The amount includes earnings in currency hawala that was offered on Nima up until Dec. 27.