EghtesadOnline: In a delayed response to the humanitarian trade channel between Iran and Switzerland coming into full effect, governor of the Central Bank of Iran said its effect should be seen in practice.
“It appears that the United States government has granted waivers for using a portion of the CBI’s [overseas] resources to supply basic goods and pharmaceuticals to Iran”, Abdolnasser Hemmati wrote in his Instagram account, citing the Swiss ambassador to Iran, Markus Leitner, Financial Tribune reported.
“We should wait and see how things ensue,” he said, referring to the US administration’s hostile and illegal moves to block CBI financial resources overseas.
The US Treasury Department on Thursday said the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Agreement (SHTA) is fully operational and open to humanitarian trade with Iran. The channel enables companies to trade food, medicine and other critical supplies with Iran.
“While the US maintains broad exceptions and authorizations for the conduct of humanitarian trade with Iran, SHTA presents a voluntary option for facilitating payment for exports of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran in a manner that ensures the upmost transparency,” the treasury department said in a statement.
Earlier in February, the hawkish US special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said there was a lot of interest from food and drug companies in using the SHTA.
The channel started pilot operations in January after a shipment consisting of cancer drugs and drugs required for organ transplants worth €2.3 million was sent to Iran.
Hemmati had earlier criticized the US government for imposing extensive restrictions on Iran’s banks, describing the US move for allowing humanitarian trade through SHTA as insufficient because it does not cover bank transactions.
"The US government's claims could be valid (only) if they permit banking transactions for humanitarian goods," the senior banker said.
SHTA seeks to ensure that Swiss-based exporters and trading companies in the food, pharmaceutical and medical sectors have a secure payment channel with a Swiss bank, through which payments for their exports to Iran are guaranteed.
The head of Iran-Switzerland Joint Chamber of Commerce, Sharif Nezam-Mafi said earlier 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.
Nezam-Mafi linked the efficiency of the trade mechanism to the amount of money the CBI injects into it.
Food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are exempt from the sanctions that Washington imposed on Tehran last year after the beleaguered president, Donald Trump, walked away from a 2015 landmark international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.