Germany vows wider banking links with Iran
Germany has announced its readiness to expand its banking cooperation with Iran and provide funds for the country’s economic projects.
The announcement was made by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in a meeting with the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Schäuble said Berlin was committed to the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran that was sealed in 2015 and came into effect in early 2016.
He also told Zarif that German banks were trying to find ways for closer cooperation with their Iranian counterparts.
Zarif arrived in Berlin on Monday for talks with German officials on issues of mutual concern.
He is expected to meet German President Walter Steinmeier as well as Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
Germany is Iran’s largest trade partner in Europe.
Official figures released last year showed that the value of trade between the two countries stands at around €3 billion, but officials on both sides have already voiced optimism that this could increase in the near future.
The nuclear deal that Iran signed with Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – envisages the removal of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
However, companies are complaining that banking problems, mainly remaining from US primary sanctions, are still obstructing business with Iran.
Last October, Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi announced that the country was looking into the possibility of using the facilities of German financial institutions to press ahead with its purchases of planes from global aviation giants like Boeing and Airbus.
This was expected to break the ice for those banks that have been reluctant to approach Iran investment projects over fears that they would fall afoul of US sanctions.
Iran later finalized the agreements with Boeing and Airbus and several planes were delivered to the country with many more in the offing.
Whether or not German banks facilitated the plane purchase deals was not confirmed, but considering Akhoundi’s remarks, chances are high that this might have been been the case.