EghtesadOnline: Tehran seems unimpressed and also pessimistic over the newly-created Swiss payment channel aimed at delivering humanitarian goods to Iran.
First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri on Tuesday said that the measure is more like a promotional item. "Issuing permission to send only $2 million worth of medicine shows that they have no idea about our economy. We have already paid for and imported more than $3 billion worth of medicine since the beginning of this fiscal year (ends in March)," ISNA quoted him as saying.
He rejected claims by the US administration over exemption of food and medicine from the list of sanctions. "We have billion dollars in other countries (but) the US does not authorize transactions when we want to use the money for importing food and medicine," Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
The humanitarian channel to import humanitarian goods (food and medicine) into Iran started trial operations last week.
As a pilot transaction, an initial payment for the shipment of medicine to Iran by a Swiss pharmaceutical company was authorized on January 27. The shipment consists of cancer drugs and drugs required for organ transplant. The medicines are valued at approximately €2.3 million.
The Swiss ambassador in Tehran told reporters on Monday that the mechanism will be fully operation in two or three weeks, IRNA reported.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected the notion that the alleged US role in permitting the channel to open would lead to a decrease in tensions. “America’s policy is still a policy of pressure on the Iranian people. It is a policy of depriving people of financial resources to purchase food and medicine.”
Elaborating his point, Zarif said, “It is not even a sign that the United States has taken the smallest step in the direction of fulfilling its commitments based on the ruling of the International Court of Justice, let alone based on the nuclear deal.”
This channel is less than the order of implementation of the ICJ, which told the US it does not have the right to block the entry of food and medicine into Iran, Al-monitor quoted him as saying.
Subject to CBI Cash Infusion
Sharif Nezam-Mafi, head of Iran-Switzerland Joint Chamber of Commerce, believes that the efficiency of the mechanism depends on the amount of the money that the Central Bank of Iran injects into it. Iran and Switzerland governments were involved in finalization of the deal, he said.
"At the moment, only Swiss companies are allowed to use the mechanism," he added.
He noted that except for the Geneva-based bank BCP, two Iranian banks are also taking part in the plan, namely Saman Bank and Middle East Bank.
Earlier this week, the Central Bank of Iran governor said the bank had made available $4 billion in foreign currency to importers of medicine and medical equipment in the last ten months.
This amount "is 2,000 times more than the value of Switzerland's recently-delivered cargo," Abdolnasser Hemmati said in response to the Iran-Swiss humanitarian trade channel.
"We do not wait for others decisions and measures when it comes to addressing vital needs like these [importing medicine]," he was quoted as saying.