March 12, 2019 - The head of Europe’s new trade channel for Iran, launched earlier this year to cushion the blow of reimposed US sanctions, is in Tehran for talks with Iranian officials about how to make the financial mechanism operational.
“E3 (Britain, France and Germany) Heads of Missions welcome INSTEX's president, Per Fischer, to Tehran,” the French Embassy in Tehran said on its official Twitter account, using the acronym of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges to refer to the trade channel.
“Important step to discuss with Iranian counterparts how to make the EU-Iran trade mechanism operational!” the embassy added in its tweet.
INSTEX is based in Paris and is managed by the German banking expert Per Fischer.
69-year-old Fischer used to be head of Germany’s Commerzbank. He had also served in the bank in different positions for 29 years.
The three European countries that are signatories to the Iran nuclear deal set up the new mechanism for non-dollar trade with Iran in response to the US withdrawal in May from the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement which lifted international sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities.
US sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s economy and oil industry have resumed, placing the deal in jeopardy, though Iran has continued to comply with the accord so far.
For that to happen, Iran must set up a counterparty to INSTEX that it can trade with. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said he hoped that would be done before the Iranian New Year, which is in less than two weeks.
INSTEX was conceived as a way to help match Iranian oil and gas exports with purchases of EU goods but diplomats say that, realistically, it will be used for smaller transactions such as purchases of humanitarian products or food.
Araqchi had disputed that, saying it could expand over time.
The US has accused European powers of undermining its crackdown on Iran by trying to break the sanctions.