European businesses widely interested in using INSTEX: Per Fischer

IRNA – Per Fischer, president of the European special payment channel with Iran, INSTEX, has stressed that European businesses are “widely interested” in using the mechanism to resume trade with Iran.

“Today’s meetings have clearly shown the wide interest there is for using this mechanism,” Per Fishcer told IRNA on Monday after he addressed a group of UK-based banks and businesses in London. The meeting was held at the initiative of the UK government’s Department for International Trade as well as the British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce (BICC) on Monday.

This is the first public meeting INSTEX president has had so far since his first visit to Iran in March when he talked with Iranian businesses, foreign evoys as well as foreign ministry officials such as Deputy FM Abbas Araghchi.

“I am pleased to be in London to conduct further technical exchanges with UK-based banks and businesses on the development of INSTEX,” he added as he was leaving the venue.

Iranian Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad tweeted last night that Per Fischer said at the meeting that the mechanism is ready to conduct the first trade exchange with Tehran in the shortest possible time.

“Per Fischer, President of INSTEX (the European trio’s trade exchanges mechanism with Iran) said today in a meeting with big British industries and trade companies that despite existing challenges, INSTEX is seriously seeking to conduct the first trade exchange with its similar Iranian company in the shortest time possible,” tweeted Iranian envoy to the UK on Monday.

Per Fishcer, who previously served as the manager of the German bank Commerzbank, has been chosen as president of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) for a period of six months.

INSTEX is the European Unión’s first independent financial channel that has been opened in a bid to unblock the trade of non-sanctioned humanitarian commodities, such as medicine or agrifoods, that has been hugely hindered due to the US unilateral economic sanctions on Iran that have targeted any international banking ties with Tehran.

It was announced in the Romanian capital Bucharest on the last day of January by the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK, the three European signatories to the 2015 international treaty on Iran’s nuclear program, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is aimed at allowing the humanitarian trade with Iran in the face of US sanctions that were reintroduced in two phases (August, Novembre) after Donald Trump Administration withdrew the US from the JCPOA in May 2018.

The European company, registered at the address of the French Economy and Finance Ministry in Paris, hasn’t been functional yet as it’s still weighing the market and banking sectors to engage in “legal” financial transactions. But seemingly, the first trade exchange is in the pipelines,

“As we are getting closer to operations, these conversations are increasingly important to ensure INSTEX is fine tuned to the needs of the market,” the former German banker told Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) in the British capital.

“I look forward to further such meetings with key European partners,” he added.
The meeting was welcomed by British Ambassador to Iran Rob Macaire, who said the conference hall was “packed” with “strongly interested British businesses”.

“Per Fischer, President of INSTEX, briefing a packed crowd of UK businesses in London today. Interest in the instrument is strong and all efforts being made towards starting operations,” Macaire tweeted on Monday.

The UK Government’s International Trade Department also lauded the audience for its “huge interest”, adding that it seeks to support more UK firms trading with Iran.

“Huge interest as Per Fischer, President of INSTEX (Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges) talks to UK companies in London. We look forward to supporting more UK firms trading with Iran,” the department’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) section tweeted on Monday.

*** The Iranian STFI

The meeting was held at the same time that Iran revealed details about its own company that is supposed to work with INSTEX.

The firm, called Special Trade and Finance Instrument between Iran and Europe (STFI), was registered on April 22 at an address in the northern Davudieh neighbourhood, very close to the headquarters of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

Ali Asghar Nouri, previously international affairs director at the private Iran Zamin Bank, has been chosen to run the STFI over a course of two years. He is Per Fischer’s counterpart in Iran.

The company has a four-member board of directors that includes three banks and one online banking infrastructure firm. Refah Bank, Bank Keshavarzi and Bank Pasargard are the three Iranian banks that sit at the board of directors, as well as Faradis Gostar Kish, an informatics services company. Bank Keshavarzi is the only board member that is represented by a female banker.

The firm’s initial capital is $23,750 based on the official exchange rate of Iranian rial to the US dollar where each dollar equals 4,200 rials.

The company was created in March, as announced by the the CBI back then.

It’s not still known which humanitarian product will be traded between Iran and Europe in their first exchange after the reimposition of US sanctions.