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Swiss official hails newly-launched humanitarian channel with Iran

A senior trade official in Switzerland has said that the country’s newly-launched financial channel meant to bring humanitarian items to Iran would guarantee that Tehran receives some of the badly-needed medicines whose delivery have been hampered by the American sanctions on the country.

Erwin Bollinger, a senior official at Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), said in remarks published on Saturday that many companies and businesses have declared their readiness to engage in trade of humanitarian items with Iran since the Swiss channel was launched earlier this week.

The Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) was launched on Thursday with a first trade for delivery of cancer and organ transplant drugs to Iran worth 2.3 million euros ($2.54m).

Reports have suggested that the transaction was processed via Swiss lender Banque de Commerce et de Placements (BCP) using credits belonging to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

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Bollinger told Iran’s official IRNA agency that there was no cap on the size and volume of SHTA transactions and that Switzerland had finalized the details of the mechanism with US authorities.

“As long as there is sufficient (Iranian) credit in Swiss banks, there would be no restrictions,” he said, adding, “The significance of this mechanism is that it can guarantee transfer of medicine to Iran.”

Iranian authorities have welcomed a first transaction through the SHTA which came after more than a year of direct consultations between SECO and US Department of Treasury.

However, CBI chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said that it was obvious that Washington was still opposed to more inclusive trade of such items with Iran despite repeated claims that its sanctions do not affect the supply of food and medicine to the country.

“If the Americans are really claiming to be supportive of delivery of medicine and agri-food, they should facilitate the banking mechanism for transfer and supply of credit for purchasing basic goods,” said Hemmati on Thursday.

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