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Iran envisions currency arrangements with China

U.S. sanctions pressures make it difficult to do business with Iran, so Iran has been looking at alternative currency options.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Iran aims to look to national currencies to open financial doors after the U.S. departure from the multilateral nuclear agreement. File Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI
Iran aims to look to national currencies to open financial doors after the U.S. departure from the multilateral nuclear agreement. File Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI | License Photo

June 11 (UPI) -- Facing U.S. pressures on its banking channels, Iran's economic minister said agreements were made with China to use their national currencies for trade.

Iran's banking channels could be impacted by the sanctions pressures that would leave the country "battling to keep its economy alive," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.

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In an effort to facilitate economic openness, the Central Bank of Iran in April opened a line of credit with Turkey that could give Iran a way to continue trading. And in late May, after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the multilateral nuclear deal, the European Union introduced a blocking statute to protect companies from U.S. sanctions and opened the door to working directly with Iran's Central Bank.

Masoud Karbasian, the Iranian minister of the economy, said Monday an agreement with China to use their respective currencies for trade could facilitate financial arrangements. Other agreements could extend into China's One Belt One Road Initiative.

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"Both sides also discussed reinforcing cooperation in banking, oil, petrochemical and trade fields," the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

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The belt measure is a multibillion-dollar initiative aimed at integrating the Chinese economy more deeply in Eurasia. Some of the planned initiatives extend into the oil and gas sector.

Speaking last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank, Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné said the U.S. decision could put the advantage in the hands of U.S. adversaries.

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"What would be not good neither for the U.S., nor for Europe, is if that at the end only Russia and China can do business in Iran," he said at the time.

Without relief, French supermajor Total was among the European companies that said it would have to leave Iran. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French minister of European and Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, added that a financial mechanism that's "immune" to the U.S. dollar would secure European financial interests in Iran and ensure its oil can still be exported.

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