Italy to send special mission of lenders to Iran

Italy to send special mission of lenders to Iran

ROME - Reuters
Italy to send special mission of lenders to Iran


Italy will follow up on billions of euros of trade deals signed with Iran this year by sending a special mission to discuss how to fund and process them, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on April 13 in Tehran.

Speaking to industrialists on the second and last day of his visit, Renzi said some 50 agreements between Italian and Iranian companies “cannot remain on paper.”

“The projects are there. They need to be realized,” he said in remarks broadcast by Italy’s RAI state television. “The priority today is financing.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani made Italy his first stop in Europe in January to drum up investment after Tehran rejoined the global trading system in January thanks to a deal with world powers to lift crippling economic sanctions in exchange for limiting its nuclear activities.

Italy already took steps on April 12 to ease financing for companies building oil-and-gas and transport infrastructure in Iran. Renzi said the delegation of financial institutions would be led by Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan.

On April 12, Italy signed seven deals with Iran, Iranian state television reported. Renzi said another 12 were signed on April 13. Some 30 others agreements were made in January.

The deal to lift sanctions did not include Iranian access to the U.S. financial system, which means Tehran still has trouble processing transactions in dollars, the world’s main business currency and the dominant unit in the oil trade.

European banks are no longer banned from doing business with Iran, but they remain wary after BNP Paribas was slapped with a $9 billion U.S. fine in 2014 for violating U.S. financial sanctions and other penalties.

Since January, Iran has struck agreements worth more than $50 billion with countries including Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Germany and others involving trade, project finance and other investment, but financial hurdles have kept significant sums of money from flowing.

Italy’s banking lobby ABI said it met with the Iranian central bank on April 12 to consider “solutions to overcome the complexities of Europe’s ending of sanctions, but which are still in force in the United States.” 

In its steps announced on April 12, Italy said its state-run lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti would offer credit lines of 4 billion euros for deals in Iran’s oil-and-gas and transport infrastructure and export agency SACE would guarantee them.

A further 800 million euros in credit lines for small- and medium-sized firms will also be offered, SACE said.