50 Swiss companies interested in SHTA: SECO director

TEHRAN, Mar. 08 (MNA) – Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, director of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) agency, has informed that 50 Swiss companies are interested in export channel to Iran, known as Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA).

"There are 50 companies that are interested at the moment, and we think there will be more," NY Times quoted Ineichen-Fleisch, director of the SECO  agency that oversees the program, as saying.

"Iran has been especially hit by the coronavirus, and while there is no substance that helps against the virus, in general the health situation is difficult," she said in an interview with broadcaster SRF on Saturday.

"If we can provide some support there and ensure exports take place then we are making a good contribution."

The SHTA aims to ensure Swiss-based exporters and trading firms in the medical, pharmaceutical and food sectors have a secure channel with a Swiss bank to guarantee payment for exports to Iran.

The arrangement has been in the works since US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in 2018 after walking away from a deal over Iran's nuclear program.

Iranian officials have lamented that despite US officials' claims, sanctions on imports of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment to Iran have not been suspended and the US Treasury does not allow the imports of Iran's purchased medicine and medical equipment for treating coronavirus patients to the country.

On February 27, the United States announced that it has granted a license to allow for certain humanitarian trade transactions, including food, medicine and other critical supplies, with Iran's sanctioned central bank, a move it said was in step with the formalization of a Swiss humanitarian aid channel.

On March 2, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran lamented that despite its establishment, Swiss Humanitarian Trade Agreementexternal link (SHTA)- trade agreement supposed to allow companies to send food, medicine and other critical supplies to Iran has not become operational yet.

On March 5, China called for the immediate lifting of the sanctions against Iran given the severe outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, saying the unilateral move hinders Iran and the international community in the fight against the virus and will only make the situation worse.

MNA/PR

News Code 156469

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