Brian Hayes MEP today (Tuesday) welcomed the announcement by EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini that a new EU-Iran payments facility will be established to ease trade between the EU and Iran.
“The announcement for a new EU-Iran payments channel should give hope to Irish firms who have been unjustly blocked from trading with Iran. It has been brought to my attention that most Irish banks continue to operate a policy of blocking Irish clients from doing business with Iran. On top of that, the Irish Government has done very little to put pressure on Irish banks to change policy.
“The new payments channel will be a special purpose vehicle to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran which will allow European companies to continue to their trade with Iran, despite US sanctions.
“After the signing of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, many European banks allowed their firms to execute payments with Iran. However, Irish banks continued to block Irish companies from doing business with Iran and have even threatened companies that banking facilities would be cut off if they were found to be doing business with Iran. The situation became worse when, this year, the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions.
“The Irish banks’ hard-line stance of blocking trade with Iran is doing damage to Irish business who have supply lines and logistical operations between the EU and Iran.
“It is unjust that Irish businesses who have stayed the course with Iran, and are prepared to invest in the new business opportunities that Iran offers, are still being threatened with no banking facilities if they trade with Iran.
“Despite the US sanctions, the EU has remained committed to the Iran deal. Following the US decision, the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, actually encouraged EU companies to increase trade with Iran. This latest announcement for a payment facility should push the Irish government to do its part in opening up financial channels with Iran.
“The government needs to firstly encourage Irish banks to show more flexibility when it comes to trade with Iran and secondly it should work with other Member States to try to develop a proper common solution for European businesses that trade with Iran. This new payments facility is only the first step. Much more needs to be done to get productive trade links between the EU and Iran.
“Enterprise Ireland has taken some welcome steps to ensure that Irish companies have a support system when trading with Iran. Enterprise Ireland has set up an in-country Iran pathfinder to help Irish businesses to deal with difficulties associated with the sanctions and is arranging a workshop for affected companies in October.”